This blog was created for USASTRATCOM Long Lines Battalion Army personnel who served in Taiwan during the 1965-72 time frame. Specifically, those who lived and worked in and around Taipei are the target. If you worked at the Grass Mountain or Gold Mountain facilities or anywhere in downtown Taipei, we would like to hear from you. All are welcome to visit and contribute to this blog. Your comments and pictures are encouraged.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Model 15 By Teletype Corporation: The Machine That Was Used In Two Wars

Previously, 2 posts were published, explaining what model and make of teletype equipment we used during our 1968-69 tour in Taiwan.

It was easier, at first, to show the model we didn't use, rather than that which we did use.

Using pictures from the DCS Tape Relay at Phu Lam, Vietnam, helped explain the Army's teletype machinery used during the Vietnam War. 

To see this posting, click HERE. 

This post is long, but may be worth your time. Click  HERE

As for the Model 15 teletype, we'll start with a little history. With the invention of Morse Code, companies around the world began working on models in which entire words could be transmitted at once over a line.  

In Europe, the Creed Company in Great Britain and Siemens in Germany began patenting methods of word transmission.  

In the United States, Morkrum Company and Kleinschmidt Electric Company were neck-and-neck in the development of machines that were very much alike.  

Rather than compete, the two companies merged in the 1924-25 years to form the Morkrum-Kleinschmidt Corporation.  Below is a picture of the Morkrum founders. 

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In 1928-29, the name of the company was changed to Teletype Corporation.  All owners seemed satisfied with the new company, as patents for improvements and changes were making the Model 15 a breadwinner. 

Several plants in the Chicago area produced the Model 15 and its components.  Later on, two huge plants were built after Teletype Corporation was purchased, and Edward Kleinschmidt created Kleinschmidt Laboratories.  

The above machine is the Model 15 KSR (keyboard send and receive) which was a virtual monopoly in the United States. 

To see the long explanation of the picture above, click HERE

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This is the Model 15 which had seen better years.  It was decided to refurbish it which was no easy undertaking. 
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This may look finished, but it was actually the first step in the rehab process.  

With motors and electrics removed, the machine was immersed in solvent which wiped away decades of grease and oil.  

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Here is the refurbished Model 15.  Of all the parts to be replaced, the most difficult to find were the green coverings for the keyboard.  It has been said that this machine, the KSR 15, had more parts than a Ferrari. 

So, the Model 15 KSR was just that, initially.  A person on one end would type and that message would be printed out on a Model 15 KSR at the other end.  And so it went.  No tape was involved in the process yet.  We are talking about 1925-29.

Eventually, the Model 15 was connected to an incoming cable and was able to act solely as a printer.  It did a lot more than what is typed here and as the post progresses, you will see just how versatile the machine was.  Maybe some You Tube clips will show you.  

The rugged, dependable, and loud Model 15 can be seen and heard HERE

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The Model 15 became the workhorse of the Teletype Corporation.  Between 1930 and 1963, some 200,000 were sold, mainly to the military.  

Before WWII, the Model 14 punched paper tape reperforator was being produced and around 60,000 were sold by 1956.  

We were fortunate to find this user's manual

Photo from Teletype Corporation

Here are the specifics on the KSR Model 15

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This is a Model 15 KSR with platen, ribbon and individual keys.  This is distinctive among teletypes since there are individual letters, punctuation and symbols.  

In other words, it looks like the old typewriters that we used until computers took over.
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This is a Model 28 printer which has dramatically changed from the Model 15. It  had no individual keys, but a cylinder which contain all the letters, symbols and punctuation.  

For those of you who think this looks familiar, it is.  The IBM Selective with its typing ball was based on this design.

The model above was first introduced to the Navy in the 1950-51 time period.
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This is a keyboard for the Model 15 which is another quick indicator of the machine that built Teletype Corporation's reputation.  

There were only 3 rolls of keys, with all the letters in upper case on the middle row.  

For numbers, the shift key plus any of the keys on the top row produced a digit.  

The shift key and the middle row produced symbols and in the bottom row were more symbols and punctuation.  

In the 1960s, this basic configuration is what we learned to type on in signal school, although the keys themselves had changed shape and color.  

There  is a forum group today called "Green Keys" in which those interested in radio and telecommunications get together. To see their page, click HERE.


This is getting ahead of teletype history, but the keyboard on this Model 28 is much different than that of the Model 15.  

The keys are round and there is another row of keys on the top which were unfamiliar to those of us who were in the Signal Corps during the Vietnam War.  

The Model 28 was supposed to replace the Model 15 long before it did.  The Navy was the first to use this new model and began using it in 1951 during the Korean War.  

It was superior to the Model 15 with all of its attachments and took at least a dozen years to design, test and make ready for sale.
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In good working shape, this Model 15 KSR was actually produced until 1963 because of consumer demand.  For the military, the black cover along with badges, plates and logos defined its heritage.

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The Model 14 printing reperforator was the next step after the Model 15.  The Model 14 could be used to type, print, and perforate the tape all at one time.  

Connected to an incoming message cable, the keys were not needed as the machine would print and perforate the tape automatically.  

To see this in action, just click here.

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Shown here is the inside of a Model 14 printing reporforator. So, now, we have a printed, reporforated tape message. 

It doesn't do us any good unless we can transmit it to the Model 15 for a printed copy.
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So, logically, we have a Model 14 Transmitter-Distributor (Reader) which transmits the punched tape message to someplace, with a paper copy to a Model 15 KSR.  

This gives us everything we need to prepare and send a perforated paper tape message. To see it in action  just click here.

Put all three of these devices together in 1941 and we have what was called, of course, the Model 19.  In came a printed page and tape from somewhere in the world.

Out went messages on tape with a printed copy on the KSR  Model 15.

Sure makes sense to me.  
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Well, this is what the Navy used during World War II.  At least this Model 19 looks this way. Improvements were being made all the time and the looks and function of the machines changed greatly during WWII.  

There was supposed to be a new machine being used by the time the Korean War began, but so many of the Model 15s were still available that the Armed Forces continued to use these machines for the Korean War.

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With all of the additions to the teletype stable of machines, none had as great an impact as the Model 15 RO (receive only) printer.  

Not only did the military eat these up, but news services such as UPI, AP, and Western Union had a method of receiving messages from many sources. To see one of these in action ClICK HERE

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The purpose of showing all of the pictures above from is to display some of the parts as well as the patents that were constantly being added.

This was truly an extremely dependable machine.  It was said to have been invented by either a genius or a mad man. It's not meant for the weekend inventor.

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By 1925, the Morkrum and Kleinschmidt companies had successfully merged and this privately owned corporation was making millions not only from the military, but also from its civilian customers.  

By the end of 1929, the company decided to change its name to Teletype Corporation. Shortly after this, the Great Depression began and the entire world changed.  

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In 1930 A.T. and T. (Bell System) bought the Teletype Corporation for $ 30 million dollars in AT and T stock.  

The name of the company remained the same. It was assigned as a subsidiary of Western Electric Company, which was entirely owned by AT and T.

AT and T had reason to buy Teletype Corporation since it was getting into the teletypewriter switching service which it called TWX.

The engineers at Western Electric made important contributions to the further development of the teletype as their many patents indicate.  

 Photo  from

In 1931, Edward Kleinschmidt decided to start his own company in order to keep his hand in the teletype business.  

It was  called Kleinschmidt Laboratories and due to competition from Western Electric for plant floor space, K.L. built its own plant in Deerfield, IL in 1949. 

The buyout had left him with millions in stock, but no salary, power, or responsibilities. Dividends were not enough to put him into retirement.

So, at age 55, Edward Kleinschmidt had his own privately owned company to create innovations for the Teletype Corporation.  

It must have amused him to be selling back to his old company patented improvements that his new company was creating.  

Kleinschmidt Labs was also in the process of producing its own complete teletypewriter system.  More about this in the next posting.  
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From all of these plates, you can see that Teletype Corporation's machines were constantly being upgraded, particularly after Western Electric became involved and Kleinshcmidt Labs contributed its own improvements.

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This is the one of the motors from a teletype machine which needed to be able to run for long periods of time every day and every hour.  What is not surprising is that General Electric was chosen to make these motors.  


We have had this Smith-Corona typewriter since the early 1960s.  It works as well now as it did when it was new.  They should last forever, or at least, our lifetimes!

In 1956, SCM, Smith-Corona-Marchant, the typewriter and calculator company, bought Kleinschmidt Labs and its new factory which had been built in 1949 in Deerfield, IL. 

The new company provided competition for the original Teletype Corporation, although at a later date.

SCM/Kleinschmidt would eventually sell its version of the Model 15 almost exclusively to the military, and the Army in particular.

These would be the machines we trained on at Ft. Gordon GA's Signal School. Then, no surprise to us, this same machinery was what we used at Grass Mountain, Taiwan. 

We knew no other teletype machines other than the gray SCM/Kleinschmidts.

This is one of the new logos for the Teletype Corporation which, in 1960, moved into a huge plant it had built in Skokie, IL.

The double-T was the indicator on the logo that this was a new company. It meant Edward Kleinschmidt was no longer part of Teletype Corporation.

This is another logo of the Teletype Corporation. Think Model 28 and beyond into the 1980s.

Photo from Teletype Corporation

This ruler is an anniversary of something, but the dates don't provide any particular event in 1907.

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In 1942, the first of some 27,000 women were allowed to serve in the Navy.  The original name given to them, and which still stands today, was WAVES.  

WAVES stood for "Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service."  In 1948 women were allowed to become actual members of the Navy.  

Here they are shown serving as teletype operators. The idea was to have WAVES serve in clerical occupations.  

Did any of you guys in the Army or Air Force know that WAVES is an acronym?  Not me.  

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This was one of the few pictures to be found of the Navy using the complete Model 19 from Teletype Corporation.

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This must have been in the very early days of the Model 15.  
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This has to be a prized photograph of teletypes in action.  

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Shown here are two women with security clearances working on teletypes during WWII.  They were members of the WAACS.
Originally created as the "Women's Army Auxiliary Corps" in 1942, the name changed to WACS in 1943. 

In 1951, the Model 28 was being produced by the Teletype Corporation.  It was supposed to replace the Model 19,  

But, in realty, the Model 15 and all of its necessary components were used for one more war.

Several photos taken during the Korean and shortly thereafter were just found. 

Again, all respects are due to the soldiers who were in the Army Signal Corps during "The Forgotten War."

Photo from Truman
There couldn't have been a better picture of the latest version of the Model 19 than this. 

The Model 15KSR has a reel full of tape for reperforating. The transmitter-distributor seems attached to the teletypewriter.

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This young man seems to be taking a message directly from a tape reperforator for sending to a specific station. 

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This is a tape relay station, it appears.  Sending and receiving is proceeding on both sides of the room. 

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Here we have a color picture of a Model 15 teletypewriter and a Model 14 typing reperforator.  The transmitter looks to be on the left side of the teletype. 

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When you think of Korea, sometimes the thoughts are of how cold it could be.  Here we have a unit sending and receiving inside these trucks.

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 This "tape ape" is running this punched tape relay station by himself.

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Even the teletype repair guys were inside the truck out in the fields.

 Photo from Korean War Memorial, Washington, D.C.  

There were over 33,000 soldiers killed from 1950-53.  Over 4,000 others were missing in action.
Coupled with this, the number of dead and missing was matched by those wounded in this war which ended with an armistice at the 38th parallel.

1 comment:

  1. I am looking for someone who could print out a short message on a Teletype Model 15 for a museum display at our headquarters in Illinois, USA. Thanks!