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Frederick George Creed 1871-1957

Mr Creed on his 85th birthday in 1956

In 1909 a small factory moved from Scotland to Selsdon Road, South Croydon. It was owned by Frederick George Creed who was born in Nova Scotia, Canada in 1871. He left Canada in 1897 and came to England first settling in Scotland.

He had previously worked for the Western Union Telegraph Company in Nova Scotia, moving on to the Central and South American Telegraph Cable Company in Peru and later transferring to their office in Chile. It was here as an overworked telegraph operator he found the equipment he had to work with far from perfect and decided to do something about it.

He had the idea to produce a typewriter style machine that would let complete Morse code signals be punched in to tape simply by operating the correct letters. The current system meant the operator had three plungers - one for dots, one for dashes and one for a space. By striking these plungers with small rubber tipped mallets, one in each hand, the appropriate perforations appeared in the tape. This was a very slow and tiring way of sending messages.

His first effort a prototype keyboard perforator was scorned and Frank was told there was no future in his idea. Upset but undeterred he went on to develop a tape perforator operated by compressed air and using a keyboard similar to that of a typewriter to control it. The GPO (General Post Office) were impressed by this new idea and placed an order for 12 machines. Frederick Creed was now turning his mind to improving the receiving side of the system and soon, with the help of a small team of mechanics - two more machines were launched. These were a Receiving Perforator (reperforator) and a printer which accepted the received tape message and decoded it into readable printed characters on plain paper. This was called the 'Creed High Speed Automatic Printing Telegraphy System. In 1912 the Daily Mail became the first newspaper in the world to use the Creed System allowing the paper to be transmitted daily from London to Manchester for same day publication. A landmark indeed as up until then 'current news' was usually a week old by the time  the customer read it! Other newspapers quickly followed and soon an export business was up and running.

1913 brought the first experiments in high speed automatic telegraphy by wireless. Successful transmissions from an aerial on the top of the Selsdon factory to Frank Creed's home some three miles away were made. These experiments ame to an end at the beginning of the First World War and the aerial was dismantled on Government orders.

The outbreak of War brought work to the Creed Company. Within days they were required to supply equipment to the Central telegraph office in London. These machines successfully coped with the large amount of messages connected with the landing in France of the British Expeditionary Force.

Activities in wireless transmission continued and after the War more developments were made. A prestigious order was received from the Press Association who needed to reach all subscriber papers at the same time. They needed a 24 hour private telegraph system linking to their Fleet Street offices for newspapers using their services. A demonstration was given in Croydon in 1920 and Creed subsequently installed a circuit between London and Bristol. So successful was this that many more circuits were established making several hundred units of Morse equipment used by the Press Association.  All of these units were heavily reliable on a compressor plant which had to be installed as well as needing an electrical supply it was a very costly business.

To improve this situation the printer was made to work with a self-contained air compressor and eventually the need for compressed air was done away with completely. The Creed Company brought out a page printing facility and made a new keyboard perforator with an automatic tape transmitter. The new and improved machines were extremely popular and the Company continued to flourish.

The next stage in this development was the Teleprinter. The Morkrum Teletype machine made by an American company posed a huge threat on the Creed Company because it printed the pages directly from incoming signals thereby doing away with the need for tape and reperforators as used by the Creed system. However, the company rose to the challenge and introduced a separate keyboard transmitter and a receiving page printer both using the 5-unit start-stop teleprinter code.

Frederick Creed continued to improve his systems. He introduced the Model 3 teleprinter which used a combined start-stop transmitter receiver. This machine proved so popular that thousands were sold between 1927 and 1942. He retired from the company in 1930 but continued to implement his many ideas until his death at home in Croydon in 1957.


Sunday, 29 November, 2015


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