The Merritt Index typewriter was designed by Mortimer and Charles Merritt and first produced in 1890 (or 1889, by some accounts). It is an index machine which used a knob to slide the character into place. It was then pressed to print. It was able to print upper case, lower case, and numerals. The machine was offered as an economical alternative to the full-sized machines of its competitors.
The machine, like other index machines was cheaper and easier to produce, but its use as an office machine was very limited. Speed and efficiency were not hallmarks of the index writers. The Merritt appears to have been quite popular in the home setting. Sales reached into the thousands (pretty good numbers for the time).
The machine was produced from 1890 (or 1889) until 1896. The “age” of the index typewriter was an extremely short one. Standard typewriters were far superior and as production costs for these machines dropped, prices dropped. By the early 1900’s, the sole benefit of the index writer…its cost, was no longer a factor.