Interactive visualization and computer images

Felix Herbst presented his interactive visualization of the Takygraf at the General Assembly of the Malling-Hansen Society in Køln 2012. Photo: Dieter Ebrewein

We are very proud to present computer images and an interactive visualization of the Takygraf, made by one of our German members, the very talented student, Felix Herbst. He has previously made a similar presentation of the 1878 model of the Writing Ball, based on the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche's writing ball, bought directly from Malling-Hansen in 1882.


The only proofs that the Takygraf once existed, is three photos of the machine, existing in two sets, one together with the German patent application, and one in the archive of the Danish publishing company, "Vandrer mod Lyset"("Toward the Light"), which is the publisher of Malling-Hansen's daughter, Johanne Agerskov's and her husband's works from the 1920's and -30's.


Beside these two sets of pictures, the other important source of information is of course the patent drawings and the text of the patent applications. Below is a list of the known patent applications about the Takygraf. As one can see, it was patented in both Denmark, Great Britain, Austria, Germany, Sweden and USA. And it was also probably exhibited on some of the large industry-exhibitions during the 1870's. We don't have many secure sources about this, but it is quite safe to assume that the Takygraf was exhibited on the world exhibition in Wienna in 1873.


But what happened with the Takygraf? Was it sold in many specimens? Was it a success? The answer is that we have very little knowledge about this. And it is a large possibility that the Takygraf wasn't sold in more than a handful specimens. Maybe only a couple. Maybe none. But it was certainly not a success to Malling-Hansen, and after the American patent application from 1875, it is never again mentioned in Malling-Hansen's known correspondance. It's a sad thing that a truly brilliant invention like this, didn't get the deserved attention.


As one can also see from the patent list, Malling-Hansen and his co-inventor, prof. Jürgensen developed two different models of the Takygraf, but the differences were only minor.


- of January 1872; Copenhagen - “Takygrafen”; Patent about the Takygraf 1

- of March 1872: London - “Mechanical Writing Instruments for Reporting”; Patent about the Takygraf 1

- of April 1873; Vienna - “Schnellschreibapparat”; Patent about the Takygraf 2

- of July 1873; Berlin - “Schnellschreib-Apparat "Tachygraph"; Patent about the Takygraf 2

 - of October 1873; Stockholm - The Takygraf

- February 1874; US-patent - “Improvement in Electro-Mechanical Printing-Instruments”; Patent about the Takygraf 2


If you want to see some more of Felix Herbst's works, please visit his homepage,

And here you can see a moving visualization:

Photo: Felix Herbst
Details from the American patent drawings, with coloration made by Felix Herbst. Photo: Felix Herbst
All photos: Felix Herbst

Interactive visualization