Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century
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GALLY, Merritt (gaw'-ly), inventor, born near Rochester, New York, 15 August, 1838. His father, a Presbyterian clergyman, died in 1844, and in his eleventh year the boy became a printer. He observed the methods of engravers who came into the office to take proofs of cuts, and, with some old files and a grindstone, managed to construct a set of tools, with which he soon did all the engraving of the office, and thus earned money to obtain the books and appliances needed for the study of mechanics and engineering. At sixteen years of age he constructed a printing-press, and, in partnership with an older brother, established a newspaper, of which the boys were respectively editor and printer. This venture was fairly successful, but Merritt, desiring a more complete education, left the business to his brother, and, with no other capital than his engraving tools, set out to work his way through College. With these, and by his talent for portrait-painting, he earned sufficient money to enable him to take the full College course, he was graduated at Rochester in 1863, became a student at Auburn theological seminary, and in 1866 was ordained by the presbytery of Lyons. For three years he served as a pastor, but, owing to loss of voice, was obliged to retire from the pulpit. He then returned to his former pursuits, and con-strutted a press for artistic printing'. This was known as the " Universal " printing-press, and its success was such that he established a manufactory for building the presses in 1869. In the progress of tiffs enterprise he invented and constructed a large number of tools and mechanical appliances specially designed to render the presses perfectly interchangeable in every part. In 1876 he established himself in New York City, sending his presses to all parts of the world, and from this time forward he has devoted himself to invention. Over four hundred patent claims have been granted him for improvements in printing machinery, electric and telegraphic instruments and devices, philosophical apparatus, and musical instruments. He has invented a multiplex telegraph, and in 1873 patented a device for converting the variable velocity of machinery into constant velocity. In 1876 his attention was directed to the growing demand for automatic musical instruments. His first important improvement consisted in a set of pneumatic appliances acted upon by a succession of small, graded perforations in a sheet of paper passing over a tubed "tracker-range." The perforations in the paper control the pressure of air in the pneumatic apparatus, enabling the instrument not only to produce automatically the notes of the music, but to render every gradation of tone almost as perfectly as if produced by a skilful performer. His experiments resulted in the production of the "Orchestrone," the success of which has warranted the establishment of extensive works for manufacturing the instruments.Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM