Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 90.djvu/870

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Sorting Mail with a Typewriter

A wonderful mechanical system which does away with the services of thirty men

���The endless chain conveyor which carries the letters to the "buckets" for distribution

THERE is a new mechanical sorting and distributing system in the Chi- cago, Illinois, post office. It is a device by which letters to all. parts of the globe are separated into 256 different divi- sions — a sorting which at present in all other post offices means two handlings of each piece of mail, and the employment of a small army of case clerks. Hoboken? Honolulu? Zip! Zip! Two taps on the typewriter keyboard, and the letters are on their way!

An endless chain conveyer travels hori- zontally around two drums, at the left of the operator. This endless belt carries a series of metal pigeonholes below a smaller number of large containers known as "buckets," which are the first destinations of the sorted letters. At the bottom of

��The letters are first stacked mechanically and faced up so that the address is in sight. The 256 keys control as many combinations of rods

each bucket arc four small rods project- ing downward. Each of these rods works independently of the others, and is capa- ble of four different positions. Thus we find 256 possible combinations. The metal vane, swinging back and forth, deposits the letters in the buckets, where they are taken care of by the rods. The letters come before the operator of the keyboard after having been stacked by a mechanical contrivance which faces them up and presses them in with sufficient ten- sion so that the address of the foremost missive is in plain sight always.

The keyboard consists of 256 different keys to correspond with the 256 combina- tions of the rods. The means of transmission from the keys to the rods is through an arrangement of horizontally placed levers along which the four bucket-rods pass.

The operator glances quickly at the ad- dress on an envelope, presses the key which corresponds, and the letter flashes away. The one pressure sets the horizontal levers at the correct combination. These act on the four rods of the bucket so that when the metal vane carries the letter to the bucket, the rods pass it on down instantly into one of the pigeonholes beneath. The same pressure of the key brings the next letter in position.

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