The term “postage meter” has been in use since the early 1900s and refers to any machine used to create and apply postage to a piece of mail. Before the invention of the postage meter, companies sending large amounts of mail relied on the time-consuming practice of manually applying stamps. Over time, the postage meter has evolved to become an all-in-one mailing solution, saving businesses precious time and money by drastically increasing efficiency.
Invention of the postage meter
Back in 1884, a Norwegian man named Engle Frankmussler obtained a British patent for a device that would print a stamp on a piece of mail and record the amount of postage used. He went on to present the design at the 1886 Worlds Fair. Other inventors around the world pursued similar ideas over the next two decades, but none of these machines were released to the public.
The first postal meter to be commercially produced and distributed was invented by Arthur Pitney, assisted by a businessman named Walter Bowes and Bowes’ stepson, Walter Wheeler. After several prototypes were created and reviewed by the U.S. Postal Service, the Model M was formally approved on November 16, 1920. Notably, this approval also required an act of Congress to allow postage to be printed directly onto mail pieces.
This early model postage meter featured a manual crank, chain action, printing die, mechanical counter that recorded the number of issued postage units and a lockout to prevent unauthorized use. The counter was periodically detached from the meter and brought to the post office so that postal fees could be paid.
Modern-day digital meters
As technology advanced, the postage meter was eventually converted to a digital format.
FP Mailing Solutions was the first company to make and bring to market a fully digital postage meter with the T-1000.
Today, these mail meters can be integrated with online networks and software to accomplish many of the time-consuming tasks traditionally associated with business mailings, such as postage tracking, weighing, letter folding and stuffing and sealing envelopes.
One of the most advanced postage meters for small-to-medium size businesses is FP Mailing’s PostBase. The PostBase offers an array of convenient features, such as a touch screen, integrated label dispenser, optional automatic feeder/sealer and a built-in scale and postage calculator. The newest model, the PostBase 85, is capable of processing mail at the rate of 85 pieces per minute — an astounding improvement from the manual crank and chain of the first Model M!
Nowadays postage meters help businesses and organizations around the world grow and expand by simplifying their shipping processes, increasing efficiency and, ultimately, saving them valuable time and money.