Stamped Out

History of the Addressograph-Multigraph Corporation

The Graphotype was made by the Addressograph-Multigraph Company which was formed in 1931-1932 when the Addressograph and the Multigraph Companies merged.  This lead to a revolution in the printing industry.  Let's see how it all began....

The 1800's
The late 1800's was an inventor's paradise.  Many new inventions were created that helped usher in the Industrial Revolution of the early 1900's.  There begins our story....

The Addressograph Company
The Addressograph Company was formed in 1892 by an Sioux City, Iowa miller, Joseph S. Duncan.  He invented a machine that would address the envelopes of the grain bids he had to send out.  This machine was very crude, all it did was imprint names and addresses from rubber type glued on a block of wood on to the envelope. 

Joseph Duncan took this idea and made some improvements.  This is when he went and got a patent for it.  The patent was filed at the US Patent and Trademark Office on 08/02/1893 and finally Joseph was granted Utility Patent # 558,936 on 04/28/1896.  The patent was for an addressing machine that would clamp onto the edge of a table and use a continuous string of type plates (metal plates with rubber stamps attached) to address the letters.  This machine was said to be able to address 2,000 envelopes per hour.

The 1900's
Addressograph Company introduces the G1 or 6100 series Graphotype.  The ball really starts to roll.

1902 - American Multigraph Sales Co. introduces Gammeter Multigraphs.  These were used to mass produce form letters.  So all this junk mail we get today can be traced back to 1902.  Over 100 years of Junk Mail....  These machines were actually quite inventive.  They used the same font as the typewriters in the office.  The body of the letter was composed by hand or using the Multigraph Typesetter No. 59 and transferring this type onto the drum of the Multigraph printer No. 66.  As the No 66 turned it picked up ink from a ribbon and transferred it to the paper.  This letter was then customized using a typewriter to fill in the blanks.

1907 - Addressograph Company releases the Card Index Addressograph.  The address plates were no longer on a string, instead each plate was separate from the others.  To print these tags the plates were loaded into a vertical hopper.  These machines sold for $73 including an oak cabinet.

The 1920's
The 1930's
In 1932 the Multigraph Company merged with the Addressograph Company, forming the Addressograph-Multigraph Corporation.

The 1940's
The 6300 Series plays a big role in WWII as THE machine to make dog tags.  AM is also given a contract to produce 50. caliber aerial compensation gun sights and airplane autopilots for the US Military.

The 1950's
AMC is split into many divisions.  Two of them being Multigraphics and Addressograph.

The 1960's
A-M Corp. Branches out into the computer age. Trying to keep pace with other companies like IBM, Sperry Gyroscope Company, Apollo Digital Computer, Advanced Scientific Instruments, Inc., Kollsman Instrument Corporation, Cubic Corporation and many others.
This AM 943 was a cutting edge computer in it's time.  It had 45,000 Diodes, 15,000 Transistors, took up 43 sq. ft. weighted 3,000 lbs., cost $300,000 for the processor ($16,950 for each tape unit) and required 10 operators for an 8 hour shift.  Using Magnetic Tape as the storage medium it could process 41,700 characters per second.... SMOKIN"


Addressograph-Multigraph Printer Processor 960.  Performs off-line printing at 1,000 lines per minute using 5,750 diodes and 5,188 transistors.  The 960 took up an amazingly small 25.6 sq ft and the computer and printer weighed a combined 2.715 lbs.  The magnetic tape was read at 75 inches per second and the 960 could read 41,667 characters per second.  All this could have been yours for $115,000 for the printer-processor and $11,500 for each tape unit.

The 1970's
1976 - Addressograph-Multigraph Corporation sell off it's graphic services division to Graphco.

1978 - Addressograph-Multigraph Corporation changes names again.  This time becoming Addressograph-Multigraph International (AM International).

From here on out the information gets scarce and sketchy, but I hope to present it as honestly as I can.

The 1980's
November 1981 - AMI sells Addressograph to DBS, Inc.

April 1982 - AMI petions to reorganize under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code, 11 U.S.C. sec. 101 et seq., in the Northern District of Illinois. 

September 1984 - Banckruptcy confirmed.

1986 - Datacard buys DBS, Inc. for about $52 million.  Addressograph is just a small piece of the company now.

The 1990's
1993 - Multigraphics, Inc. (an offshoot of AMI) emerges from Chapter 11 in September 1993.

1999 - Long time rival A.B. Dick buys Multigraphics, Inc.  A.B. Dick continues to use the Multigraphics name for some of their inks to this day.  This all but ends this offshoot of the once great AMI.

Addressograph Today
The Addressograph name still lives on as a part of NewBold.  And yes, they still make embossing machines.

History Section Topics:
History of Dog Tags
History of Dog Tag Necklaces
History of the Addressograph-Multigraph Co.

More information will be added as time permits.  However, if you have any information to add to this section, contact Robert.