Donald Murray (inventor)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Donald Murray
Born 1865
Invercargill, New Zealand
Died 1945
Occupation electrical engineer
Known for telegraphic typewriter

Donald Murray (b. 1865 Invercargill, New Zealand; d. 1945) was an electrical engineer and the inventor of the telegraphic typewriter using an extended Baudot code that became the teleprinter. He can justifiably be called the "Father of the remote Typewriter".[1]

Murray's system became the International Telegraph Alphabet No. 2 (ITA2) or Murray Code, that was in use until supplanted by the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) that was introduced in 1963.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Murray was educated at the Lincoln Agricultural College near Christchurch from 1882. This led to his early work as a farmer.

Murray went to Europe in 1886, returning in 1887 and working at The New Zealand Herald newspaper, while also studying at the Auckland University College from which he graduated in 1890 with a Bachelor of Arts.

In 1891 he moved to Australia, where he worked for The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper while studying at the University of Sydney for a Master of Arts in logic.[1]

Later work[edit]

It was during his time with the Sydney Morning Herald that Murray got the idea for the telegraphic typewriter. At the time, telegrams were transmitted by telegraphists using Morse code, then typed onto a telegram form which was then delivered by pushbike rider or runners. Murray's idea was to combine a typewriter with a carboncopy machine to allow the transmission of messages, and by persons who did not have to be familiar with Morse code but rather the more familiar typewriter machines. Machinists were being trained in great numbers at the time, using the QWERTY keyboard layout.

Murray went to New York City in 1899 with the idea for his invention, and sought backing while submitting a patent. The patent describes the tele-typewriter system. It received backing from the Postal Telegraph Cable Company, and was then manufactured. This formalised and heavily promoted the use of the QWERTY keyboard, to the detriment of other keyboard layouts such as the Blick keyboard and Dvorak keyboard.

The machines were introduced world-wide, with systems prominently at New York's Western Union and London's General Post Office.[1]

Murray soon moved to London, and remained there until he sold the rights to his invention in 1925. He then retired to Monte Carlo and later Switzerland, where he studied and wrote on philosophy.[1]


Murray was the author of three books:

  • The Philosophy of Power: First Principles, London: Williams & Norgate (1939).
  • The Philosophy of Power, Volume 2: The Theory of Control, London: Williams & Norgate (1940).
  • Australia: Poverty or Progress?, Melbourne: Henry George Foundation (1945).


External links[edit]