Paige Compositor

Paige Compositor

The Paige Compositor

Paige Compositor was an invention developed by James W. Paige between 1872–1888. Designed to replace the human typesetter of a printing press with a mechanical arm,[1][2] the machine was not nearly as precise as it should have been and never turned a profit because of its complexity and continual need for adjustment based upon trial and error.[3][4]

The Paige typesetting machine is notable for substantial investment that prominent writer Mark Twain made into failed endeavour: $300,000 ($5,905,833 today). Twain, a former printer, invested not only the bulk of his book profits but also a large portion of the inheritance of Olivia Clemens, his wife.[4] Many point to his over-investment in the Paige typesetting machine and other inventions as the cause of not only his family's financial decline but also the decline of his wit and humor.[5]

Only two machines were built. One was donated by Cornell University for a scrap metal drive during World War II. The other machine survives and is displayed at the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut.[6]


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  4. ^ a b Kirk, Connie Ann. Mark Twain, a Biography. Connecticut: Greenwood Printing, 2004. PS1331.K57.
  5. ^ "Mark Twain, a Life" Ron Powers
  6. ^

External links

  • Page at ERIC
  • U.S. Patent 157,694 Precursor by Paige (patent application filed 1872)
  • U.S. Patent 547,859 Paige Compositor patent (application filed 1882)