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British Industrial History

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Sir Isaac Pitman and Sons

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January 1952."All Purpose Diesels" by J. Malcolm Robson.

12/14 Newton Street, Holborn, London, WC2. Telephone: Holborn 1188. Telegraphic Address: "Nueracol, Westcent, London". (1937) Pitman House, Parker Street, Kingsway, London WC2.(1933)

The history of shorthand writing in the UK dates from the 16th century.

1588 Timothy Bright (born 1551) published Characterie: An Arte of Shorte, Swifte and Secrete Writing by Character, and received a patent for his shorthand system from Queen Elizabeth I.

1602 John Willis’ Art of Stenography published.

1646 William Mason’s La Plume Volante published.

1692 John Byrom born.

1742 Byrom’s shorthand system copyrighted.

1749 Samuel Taylor born.

1750 Thomas Gurney’s Brachygraphy printed in Manchester.

1767 John Byrom’s Universal English Shorthand published in Manchester, four years after his death.

1772 Thomas Gurney appointed by the English Government as its first official shorthand writer.

1786 Samuel Taylor’s An essay intended to establish standard for an universal system of stenography published in London.

1813 Isaac Pitman born in Trowbridge, Wiltshire.

1822 Benn Pitman born.

1823 William Harding revised Taylor’s system.

1829 Isaac Pitman took up Samuel Taylor’s shorthand.

1837 Isaac Pitman published Stenography Sound-Hand. Pitman shorthand became the first subject taught by correspondence. Jacob Pitman, Isaac Pitman’s elder brother, took Isaac’s Sound-Hand with him to Australia.

1839 The First Phonetic Institute opened at 5 Nelson Place, Bath by Isaac Pitman.

1840 The second edition of Pitman’s Stenography Sound-Hand published, and by the end of the year the third edition was on the shelves.

1842 The Phonographic Journal No 1 went on sale (now the Pitman’s Phonetic Journal).

1843 The Phonographic Correspondence Society established in the United Kingdom.

1845 Isaac Pitman established his first printing press.

1846 A Phonographic Dictionary of the English Language, the first ever Pitman dictionary, was published, containing 12,000 outlines.

1851 The Second Phonetic Institute opened by Pitman at Upper Bristol Road, Bath. Isaac Pitman won a bronze medal at the Great Exhibition for his printed shorthand.

1852 Benn Pitman went to America, introduced Pitman shorthand and established the Phonographic Institute of Cincinnati.

1855 Pitman’s Third Phonetic Institute opened at Parsonage Lane, Bath. The first Shorthand Speed Certificates issued by the Phonetic Institute in Bath.

1864 The Royal Society of Arts began shorthand examinations.

1870 Pitman’s Metropolitan School was opened in London.

1872 Seventeen enthusiastic writers of Pitman’s shorthand established the Phonetic Shorthand Writers Association in Great Britain.

1874 Pitman’s Fourth Phonetic Institute opened at 6 and 7 Kingston Buildings in the Abbey Churchyard, Bath.

1884 The ‘Pitman v Hine’ copyright action. The ‘Acropolis of Athens’ depicting 4th century BC Greek shorthand discovered in Athens.

1886 Pitman went into partnerships with his sons Alfred and Ernest to form Isaac Pitman and Sons. The first million copies of the Phonographic Teacher sold in Great Britain.

1887 The Golden Jubilee of Pitman shorthand.

1888 Pitman shorthand became an examinable subject for secondary schools with the Oxford Local Examining Board.

1889 Pitman shorthand was first recognised by the British Government in the ‘Technical Instruction Act’.

1890 Pitman shorthand was included in the British School Code. National Phonographic Society formed.

1892 The Pitman’s Shorthand Weekly established.

1894 Isaac Pitman was knighted by Queen Victoria.

1895 Sir Isaac Pitman retired; his eldest son, Alfred, took over the family business.

1897 Sir Isaac Pitman died on 22 January, in Bath. Sir Isaac Pitman and Sons commissioned a special building to house the Pitman’s Metropolitan School.

1898 Phonetic Shorthand Writers Association and the National Phonographic Society merged to become The Incorporated Phonographic Society. The new Pitman’s Metropolitan School building opened in London.

1901 Pitman’s Phonetic Institute extended.

1902 Sir Isaac Pitman: His Life and Labours by Benn Pitman and Alfred Baker published.

1904 Sir Isaac Pitman 1813-1897: A Biographical Sketch first published.

1906 The first commercially feasible stenography machine invented by Ward Stone, Ireland.

1910 Benn Pitman died in America.

1913 The ‘Centenary’ edition of Pitman shorthand introduced to mark the 100th anniversary of Sir Isaac Pitman's birth.

1921 The Pitman Commercial Examinations Department established at the Phonetic Institute.

1922 The New Era edition of Pitman shorthand published by Sir Isaac Pitman and Sons. A world record of 350 words per minute achieved in America during a 2 minute test using the Pitman system.

1939 See Aircraft Industry Suppliers

1952 James Hill experimented with his new shorthand system - Teeline - at Grantham College.

1956 Sir Isaac Pitman and Sons Ltd turned down the chance to publish James Hill’s new system of shorthand.

1970 The Pitman Collection' transferred from Pitman Publishing Ltd to Bath University.

1974 Pitman introduced a new non-court based system called Pitman 2000.

1975 Sir Isaac Pitman and Sons reincorporated as Pitman Ltd.

1982 Pitman Ltd become a public limited company.

1985 The Pitman Examination Institute was sold to the Longman Group

1997 Bath Press Group Ltd (formerly part of Sir Isaac Pitman and Sons Ltd) reprinted Sir Isaac Pitman 1813-1897: A Biographical Sketch to mark the 100th anniversary of Sir Isaac Pitman’s death.

2000 A trademark case was bought by Sir Isaac Pitman and Sons Ltd against Pitman Education and Training Ltd over the use of the word Pitman in connection with examinations.

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Sources of Information