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Reading by lamplight
Georg Friedrich Kersting, Man Reading by Lamplight (1814) (Oskar Reinhard Foundation).
When George Caines became New York's first official Reporter in 1804, his tool of the trade was the quill pen. A stell point pen had been patented in the previous year, but the new invention would not become commercially available for another 30 years. His office may have been equipped with graphite
pencils, but these would have had to have been imported, since none would be made in America until 1812. He wrote on paper made from rags, since the method of making paper from wood pulp would not reach America until the next century. Caines worked by natural light when available and by candellight or lamplight when it was not. If he used a lamp, it likely was fueled by lard oil or other rendered fat, since whale oil, while available, would have been prohibitively expensive (at about $200 per gallon in today's dollars).
   The editorial office environment would change only gradually over the next century. The steel point pen would remain the common writing instrument throughout the 1800s, until supplanted by the fountain pen in the early twentieth century. Candles and oil lamps would give way to gas lighting and then to Thomas Edison's incandescent light bulb.
   The first major advance in editorial office technology came with the invention of the typewriter, which reached the American market in 1874, during the tenure of State Reporter Hiram E. Sickels (1871-1895). It is doubtful that typewriters were used in the office of the State Reporter during his tenure, since few were comfortable with "mechanical writing" at that time, and the instruments would not be perfected until the time of State Reporter Edwin A. Bedell (1900-1908). Eventually, typewriters became commonplace in the office of the State Reporter, although few legal editors used them. Most editors lacked the skill to use the typewriter and, in any event, preferred to write in longhand and leave the typing to the secretarial staff.
   During the tenure of the techologically progressive State Reporter James M. Flavin (1953-1976), electric typewriters came on the market and into the Law Reporting Bureau. The use of the IBM electronic typewriter, with its revolutionary design and increased typing speed, set the stage for the implementation of computer technology in the editorial process.
Therese Landry

   Changing technology can bring a certain amount of apprehension to those who are comfortable with the tools that they have been using. While we tend to associate this resistence to technological changes with our current computerized climate, this is not completely true. Therese Landry, secretary to Reporters Leland F. Coss and James M. Flavin, recalls the time when she left for her honeymoon, only to find upon her return that her manual typewriter had been replaced by an electric one. She was not very happy with the prospect of becoming proficient in the use of the new typewriter, but, since management refused to return the old one, she had no choice. She said: "They probably realized that if they returned the manual typewriter, I would never have learned to use the electric one. And they would have been right."

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