THE TAPP FAMILY
A Layman’s Typewriter
Gift to the GovernmentWhen US Navy Reservist machinist’s mate Lora Evans Tapp died in Clarksville, Indiana, on July 20, 1953, aged just 43, his family decided not to let his dream of designing a layman's typewriter die with him.
They pursued an application for a patent for the hardy yet cheap and easily assembled Tapp typewriter, which Lora Evans Tapp had applied for on this day in 1952. Tapp's ambition was to have a typewriter built for the specific use of military personnel in the field.
On May 21, 1955, the patent was issued to his widow, Lloyt Elizabeth Markert Tapp, his daughters Loretta Sue and Lucille Marie Tapp, and his son Larry Wayne Tapp, as Lora’s “sole heirs”.
The interesting and unusual thing about the patent is that Lora Tapp had stipulated “The invention described herein, if patented, may be manufactured and used by or for the Government for governmental purposes, without the payment to me of any royalty thereon.”
Lora Evans Tapp was born in New Albany, Indiana, on March 14, 1910.
In his application, Lora stated, “A primary object of the invention is to provide a typewriter which is extremely rugged and durable in construction, so as to be capable of standing hard usage, and particularly well adapted for use by military personnel in the field for typing messages and the like.
“A further object is to provide a simplified typewriter embodying a minimum number of parts, constructed and arranged so that the typewriter is very easy to service, assemble and disassemble without employing skilled typewriter mechanics.
“A further object is to provide a typewriter which will be considerably cheaper to manufacture than conventional typewriters, due to the fact that complicated machining and assembly operations have been minimized, and the major operating components of the machine are connected with a horizontal support or mounting frame, which is independent from the main frame of the typewriter.
Though the Tapp typewriter might not have gone into production, it did have a legacy. Almost 20 years later, in 1971-72, sections of the Tapp patent relating to the escapement rack and ribbon mechanism were referenced in the designs of other, much more modern typewriters.