The History of the Franking Machine

Date Added: November 07, 2012 10:17:18 AM
Author: Lenka Rihova
Category: Blogs: Business

In 1884, a Norwegian inventor by the name of Engle Frankmussler announced his idea to improve the postal system, with a franking machine. Frankmussler presented his invention at the World’s Fair in Germany in 1886, after patenting it. The machine was not, however instantly recognised as the phenomenon it would later prove to be. At the World’s Fair it consisted of a counting device, printing dye and a manual lever and it demonstrated how it was able to print a stamp onto an envelope, simultaneously noting the correct postage. The Postal Services had been seeking new ways of increasing security and reducing theft of stamps but failed to see the benefits of Frankmussler’s machine. As a result of this reticence, the inventor didn’t create his business ‘The Franking Company of America’ until 1911. Meanwhile, Arthur Pitney, a Chicago inventor, had been perfecting his own franking machine and formed the Pitney Postal Machine Company in 1902. He was in direct competition with Frankmussler, but neither machine was considered particularly foolproof as both could be tampered with quite easily. In 1919, however, Pitney joined forces with Walter Bowes and a year later they merged their ideas and formed the Pitney-Bowes postage Meter Company. Several years later, they merged with Frankmussler, and the ‘Universal Postage Trust’ company was created. Technical advancements over the years have seen great improvements in the franking machine. The early models featured a manual crank handle, ink pads and counting devices. Electronics later took over and in 1979, Postage by Phone was invented to negate the need for companies to take their meters to the Post Office for them to be reset. Pre-paid cards enabled companies to manage their post in an efficient way, with this service bearing similarities to electronic banking and the internet today. Recently digital technology has replaced this to create efficient, ultra high speed usage. Franking machines can now prevent fraud and are tailor made to meet the demands of small and large businesses. Today, a vast number of businesses, world wide, opt for franking machines as opposed to post office services to manage their daily outgoing mail. E-Bay customers who pay online today can even benefit from label printing technology, which allows them to print pre-paid labels on their home computers, without the need for a franking machine. This is yet another initiative from Pitney-Bowes.

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