Lee Burridge – Complete Biography, History and Inventions

Lee Burridge – Complete Biography, History and Inventions

Key Points

  • Lee Burridge was known for creating many unique machines such as the crawling doll and the walking man.
  • He holds over 60 patents in his name and known for making significant improvements to the typewriter along with his partner Newman Marshman.
  • He remained unmarried and after his death his brother inherited the majority of his estate.
Black and white portrait of Lee Burridge
Lee Burridge was an inventor of the typewriter.

Who was Lee Burridge? 

Lee Burridge was an inventor, manufacturer, and one of the typewriter inventors

Quick Facts

Full Name
Lee Burridge
May 4, 1915
Net Worth
$91,000 at time of death
  • American Institute award of merit
Place of Birth
Paris, France
Fields of Expertise
Tunbridge Wells, England
Sun No 2. Typewriter

Early life

Lee Burridge was born on September 22, 1861, in Paris, France. He was the son of Dr. Levi Spear Burridge and Emma Frances (Ogden) Burridge. Burridge was educated at Tunbridge Wells, England, and moved to New York in 1878.


Aufmordt & Co.

In New York Burridge worked on manufacturing mechanical toys at the importing house of Aufmordt & Co. learning about mechanical toys.

Sun Manufacturing Co. 

In 1890, Burridge directed his focus to manufacture mechanical toys and established Sun Manufacturing Co. At Sun Manufacturing Co. Burridge toys like the walking man and a doll that could crawl. In 1883 he was awarded with the award of merit by the American Institute.

Lee designed and created many of the parts used in over 700 machines that he created and held about 60 patents in his name.

The SUN typewriter No. 2 advertisement
Pictured is an advertisement for The Sun Typewriter Company

In 1882 Burridge and Newman Marshman began a long-lasting partnership. They patented their combined work on a toy in 1883. In 1884 Burridge and Marshman devised the Sun Index typewriter

Burridge spent a lot of time simplifying the parts and movements of the typewriter. Some of the innovations he made over the year were: a new inking system combining a small self-supplying ink roll with a type-bar; a counterbalance type bar, permitting a very slight and delicate touch to the keys; a visible machine, a special type-bar machine operating 78 characters with only 10 keys. 

In 1885 the Sun Index typewriter was patented and went into production. 

The Sun Index typewriter
This is a rendering of The Sun Index typewriter.

Two years later in 1887, Burridge and his brother Frank incorporated the Sun Typewriter Co. in New York. Burridge became the president of this company until his death.

The Sun Index was successful and Burridge and Marshman earned a lot in profits. It kept them both occupied for the next 12 years. During this time, Burridge and Marshman produced and tested 685 prototypes as they tried to perfect a typebar typewriter.

In the early 1890s, Burridge and Marshman devised and patented two adding machines and a cash register. A few years later, in 1896, Burridge and Marshman 

In 1896 Marshman and Burridge offered a swinging type shuttle typewriter to the American Typewriter Co., but it failed. Soon after this failure, they went their separate ways.

Sun No 2 

In 1901, Lee Burridge and his brother Frank launched the Sun No. 2. This machine was an early luggable, meaning it was a typewriter suitable for travelers and had its own case. The Sun No. 2. Is a small desk machine with an idiosyncratic inking machine and was quite successful from inception in 1901 through 1907. These keyboards were made until the 1920s and Burridge created three small Suns- the index model and the two keyboard models. 

Moreover, after his death, in 1919, Underwood Co. bought the patents for Burridge’s machine and launched it in November 1919 as the Underwood Standard Portable Typewriter.

Aeronautical Society of America

Burridge became interested in aviation and in 1908, Burridge and like-minded enthusiasts purchased the first airplane ever sold. He arranged the first public exhibition of flying. This airplane was then sent to tour throughout the United States and Canada. This was to help create public interest in aviation. 

Lee Burridge founded the Aeronautical Society of America and was the president for several years. He was also a member of the Aeronautical Engineers Society, the Automobile Club of America, the National Geographic Society, and the Aero Club

Dr. Levi Spear Burridge in his elder years
Dr. Levi Spear Burridge is Lee Burridge’s father.

What is Lee Burridge known for? 

Lee Burridge is well known because of the Sun No. 2 typewriter. There were three different models made – the index model and the two keyboard models. 

Moreover, after his death, in 1919, Underwood Co. bought the patents for Burridge’s machine and launched it in November 1919 as the Underwood Standard Portable Typewriter.

Lee Burridge: Marriage, Divorce, children, and personal life

On May 4th, 1915, Lee Burridge died at 54 in his home in New York. His estate was appraised at $91,000. Burridge was unmarried and his estate and typewriter patents were left to his brother, Frank.

Lee Burridge: Awards and Achievements

Award 1  

In 1883, the American Institute granted Lee Burridge the award of merit.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What did Lee Burridge invent? 

Lee Burridge invented the Sun Index typewriter and the Sun No. 2 portable typewriter

When were typewriters invented? 

The first typewriter was invented in 1868 by Christopher Latham Sholes. 

When was Lee Burridge born?

September 22, 1861

When did Lee Burridge die? 

May 4, 1915 

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