Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS3848798 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateNov 19, 1974
Filing dateAug 3, 1973
Priority dateAug 3, 1973
Also published asCA1007622A1, DE2437376A1, DE2437376C2
Publication numberUS 3848798 A, US 3848798A, US-A-3848798, US3848798 A, US3848798A
InventorsRiley G
Original AssigneePitney Bowes Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Credit system for postage meters
US 3848798 A
Abstract
A credit recharging mechanism and method for a meter having a descending register which locks-out when some minimum credit balance is reached. The credit recharging mechanism unlocks and resets the register so that the register is again free to operate until such time, when a subsequent minimum balance is reached. The recharging mechanism is used repeatedly to unlock and reset the meter everytime the meter is disabled (locked-out). A counter is connected to the recharger for maintaining a record of the credit which has been extended to the meter user, which is the running account of the number of times that the meter has been recharged.
Images(2)
Previous page
Next page
Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [191 Riley Nov. 19, 1974 [52] U.S. Cl. 235/101, 235/130 R, 235/132 R [51] Int. Cl. G07g 1/00, G06f 15/18 [58] Field of Search 235/101, 132 R, 132 A;

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS Tyler 235/130 R Hanson et al. 235/132 R Rouan et a1. 235/101 Primary Examiner-Stephen J. Tomsky Attorney, Agent, or Firm-William D. Soltow, Jr.; Albert W. Scribner; Robert S. Salzman 5 7] ABSTRACT A credit recharging mechanism and method for a meter having a descending register which locks-out when some minimum credit balance is reached. The credit recharging mechanism unlocks and resets the register so that the register is again free to operate until such time, when a subsequent minimum balance is reached. The recharging mechanism is used repeatedly to unlock and reset the meter everytime the meter is disabled (locked-out). A counter is connected to the recharger for maintaining a record of the credit which has been extended to the meter user, which is the running account of the number of times that the meter has been recharged.

10 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures "KUVISISM 3.848.79 PATENTEIJ sum 1 or 2 PATENTE :znv 1 91914 848 i 7 9 8 SHEET 2 OF 2 FIG.4

CREDIT SYSTEM FOR POSTAGE METERS The invention pertains to postage meters and more particularly to a method and apparatus for extending credit to a postage meter user.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Heretofore, postage meters in the United States have been used on a pre-payment basis. The United States Postal Service has always been reluctant in the past to adopt a credit system. However, with the advent of better record keeping methods, and in particular with the increase of computer aided credit processing systems, there may be a movement towards relaxing the prohibition now surrounding the issuance of postage credit. It is to be noted, that certain countries other than the United States are now successfully using credit postal systems.

In anticipation of the day when a credit system is instituted in the United States, and also in keeping with other currently operable credit systems, the present invention for a method and apparatus for recharging a postage meter on a post payment basis has been devised.

PRIOR ART A prior postage metering device shows a system wherein the user can recharge his own meter by dialing a new combination into a pseudo-randomly varying combination lock. This system is described in the patent to: R. C. Pitney et al; US. Pat. No. 3,034,329; is sued: May 15, 1962.

This prior art meter is operated on a prepayment basis. The meter user is required to make prepayment before being issued a new combination to recharge (unlock) his meter. Also, the meter of this prior system is recharged by adding a fixed increment of postage into the existing balance on the descending register, without having the register pass through its zero position (minimum balance). In other words, this prior meter is reset by back winding the descending register to its original position.

In the present invention the user has complete control of the locking mechanism of his meter, and need not make inquiry of the Postal Authorities for a new combination every time he needs to recharge the meter. The present user can unlock his meter at will, and the meter will record his credit balance (post-payment system). Also, the meter of this invention is designed to continually operate in a continually descending mode, i.e., pass through the zero position a repeated number of times.

While the known meter can be easily modified to operate on a credit basis using the aforementioned backwinding technique, the present inventive meter embodiment having a continually descending register is thought to be more convenient from a credit generating standpoint. The inventive credit meter method, however, is to be construed as embracing both of the aforesaid techniques.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention is for a method and apparatus for operating a postage meter on credit. As an example, a standard Pitney-Bowes postage meter (Model 5300) has been modified to operate on a credit basis. This has been accomplished by replacing the highest digit wheel of the descending register with a digit wheel operable with a dual input (a differentially geared wheel). The new digit wheel receives an input from the lower order digit wheels in normal fashion, and the register advances until it is locked out (a minimum register bal- We is ashd -.Wl1en e r s sts;.is s ssqtan wu crement of credit is fed into the meter by first unlocking the register, and then indexing the differentially geared digit wheel from zero (the lock-out-position) to nine (the recharged position). This operation is accomplished by means of an actuation slide. The slide pulls out the locking comb holding the register in locked condition, as it slides from a first position to a second position. Also, as the slide reciprocates from the first position to the second position, and back again, one of the differential gears of the differentially geared digit wheel is engaged by the slide. The digit wheel is rotated 18 as the slide moves the comb out of locking engagement with the register, and is rotated another 18 as the slide returns to its initial position. Thus the differential digit wheel is turned through 36 (from the zero to the nine position). The slide rotates the wheel by camming the outer one (start-tooth gear) of the two gears which influence the digit wheel. The gears which influence the digit wheel have a 2:1 ratio with respect to the digit wheel, so that for every 18 of rotation of the differentially geared digit wheel, the outer gear must be cammed 36.

The actuation slide is controlled by means of actuating a lock device, e.g., putting a key in a lock cylinder and turning the key and cylinder to move a latch connected to the slide.

Only authorized personnel will be given the keyto the lock, or otherwise be able to actuate the slide.

In order to record the number of times the register is reset, (maintain a running credit balance) a counter is connected to the differential wheel.

The advantage of the aforementioned credit system is that the postage meter patron does not have to go to the Post Office every time he desires to recharge his meter. With the present system, the user can personally recharge his meter, and the meter will record the credit extended to him.

The amount of credit extended to the user can be limited to a given quantity by providing an additional lock-out, for the counter or credit register when a given credit balance is attained. This lock-out can be designed to be freed only by Postal authorities, thus insuring that the user will pay his bill before additional credit will be extended to him.

It is an object of this invention to provide an improved postage meter system;

It is another object of the invention to provide a credit system for the operation of a machine or meter;

It is yet another object of this invention to provide a method and apparatus for operating a postage meter on a credit basis. These and other objects of the invention will be better understood and become more apparent with reference to the following detailed description and accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. is a cutaway perspective view of a modified Model 5 300, Pitney-Bowes postage meter, which comprises the inventive' apparatus;

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the register, reset, and locking mechanism of the invention of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a side view of the mechanism of FIG. 2, taken along lines 33, with the digit wheel shown in phantom so as to expose a solid working view of the star-toothed gear, and showing a resetting slide member in a first position;

FIG. 4 is a side view of the mechanism of FIG. 2, taken along lines 3-3, with the digit wheel shown in phantom so as to expose a solid working view of the star-toothed gear, and showing the resetting slide member in a second position; and

FIG. 5 is a side view of the reset counter of the invention shown in FIG. 1.

Generally speaking the invention is for an apparatus and method of operating a machine or postage meter on a credit basis. The machine comprises a register for registering the extent to which the machine has been operating. A lock-out device is used to lock the machine from further operation, when a first minimum given balance is reached by said register. The machine is then unlocked to allow further operation of the machine until a second subsequent minimum given balance is reached. The above procedure is repeatable. An accounting means is provided to account for the number of times the machine is unlocked and permitted to operate further.

The Pitney-Bowes meter as used to describe the present post-payment system is a modified Model 5300 meter. Unless otherwise indicated in this description, the operation and construction of the aforesaid meter is exactly the same as the unmodified model.

7 Now referring to FIG. 1, a cutaway perspective of a, modified Pitney-Bowes postage meter (Model 5 300) is shown. The postage meter 1 has the usual postage setting levers 2 for obtaining a desired postage print-out.

A register (not entirely shown in this view and subsequent views) is used in normal fashion to record the amount of postage which is set by the levers 2 for each operation of the meter. Normally, when the meter 1 has used up its allotted amount of postage, the descending register (arrow 3, FIG. 2) is locked out against further movement by a locking comb4. Th i s lgcking prevents the meter 1 from operating further, i.e., printing out further increments of postage. As was previously the case, the user of the.

meter was at this point obliged to go to the Post Office to recharge the meter. With the present invention, the meter 1 has been modified to operate on a credit basis. The modified meter 1 comprises a locking device 5, an actuating slide 6, a credit accountability counter 7, counter linkage 8, and a counter cam 9. The meter has also had its register 3 changed, wherein the highest order wheel of this descending register has been replaced with a differentially geared wheel 10 similar to thatused in the lower order wheels of this meter. This new wheel 10 receives a rotational input from the lower order digit wheels in normal fashion through gear 11. However, the digit wheel 10 now being a differentially operated wheel, can be reindexed through a second star-tooth gear 12.

In the credit system of this invention, the meter 1 is provided with a lock 5 to which the postage meter user is provided a key. This lock 5 is shown here as being a standard cylindrical lock, but can of course be a combination-type lock, push-button type lock, etc. The lock 5 is operable by the postage meter user without the need to visit the Post Office, since the user is provided the key, or combination to the lock. When the user desires to use more postage after the locking comb 4 has The counter 7 is disposed within meter 1 in an inaccessible spot, so that it cannot be tampered with. Every time the user recharges his meter, (unlocks and resets the descending register) the credit counter 7 is made to ascend by one unit, thus keeping a running credit bala qe th WIB$ The unlocking and resetting of the register 3 will be XP IWQWIK L referen e t FIGS:

When a key (not shown) is inserted and turned within keyway 14 of lock 5, the latch 15 is caused to be thrown as generally depicted by arrow 16 in FIG. 4. The throwing of latch 15 in turn causes actuating slide 6 to move in the direction shown by arrow 17. As the slide 6'moves in this direction, a pin 18 disposed upon the slide is made to engage with, and pivot the locking comb 4 about its pivot 20. The locking comb 4 is thus caused to move as shown by arrow 19. In so moving, the register 3 is freed from its locked-out position as shown in FIG. 2. The register 3 is now free to be reindexed from the minimum balance position, (locked-out position, 0, 0, 0, etc) to its recharged position (9, 0, 0, etc.). Reindexing the register is accomplished by camming the star-tooth gear 12 of the differential wheel 10. Thus the wheel 10 is indexed from its zero position to p it o t In order to index the wheel 10 from its zero position to its nine position, the wheel 10 must be rotated 36 or one-tenth of a revolution, since each of the ten numbers on the wheel occupies one tenth of the wheel periphery. This requires a camming of gear 12 through 72, since it operates in a 2:1 ratio with respect to digit wheel 10. Wheel 10 is indexed in two stages of 18 apiece. When the actuator slide 6 is pulled in the direction of arrow 17 (FIG. 4), pawl 21 of slide 6 causes tooth 22 of gear 12 to move. This movement consequently cams gear 12 through 36 causing wheel 10 to h ve msb 833 sh wnlay arrow. 23-

When the key of lock 5 is turned back to its home p 0 '7 M sition for removal from keyway 14 as shown in FIG. 3, the wheel 10 is rotated an additional 18 for a total movement of 36 as required. This is accomplished by way of turning latch 15 in the direction of arrow 24. This causes slide 6 to move in the direction shown by arrow 25. A second pawl 26 cams gear tooth 27 of gear 12 downwardly, thus causing the gear 23 to turn 36 more and wheel 10 to turn an additional 18 in direc- Q L@...( UW).-

As the actuating slide member 6 is caused to move to its home position (arrow 25, FIG. 3), the locking comb 4 pivots about point 20 as shown by arrow 28, and the highest order tooth is now caused to rest on the periphcry of the wheel 29 of the register 3 (as shown in phantom in FIG. 3). In the lock-out position (FIG. 2) the fingers 31 of comb 4 are resting within locking windows 30 of wheels 29, 29', 29", and 29". When the fingers 31 are within the locking windows 30, the register 3 will not be able to operate.

However, when the register wheel 10, is indexed 36, as when gear 12 is cammed 72 (FIG. 3), the window 30 of wheel 29 is rotated out of the locking position. The register 3 is now in position to operate until the register once again attains a subsequent lock-out position (minimum balance; 0, 0, 0, etc.).

The aforementioned procedure of unlocking and resetting the meter may be repeated many times, thus negating the need to go to the Post Office to recharge the meter.

The credit extended to the user is recorded by means of credit counter 7, which is ascended one unit each time the register 3 is unlocked and reset. The counting mechanism is illustrated in FIG. 5.

As the wheel is indexed as shown by arrow 23, a cam 9 which turns conjointly with wheel 10, is caused to likewise turn as shown by arrow 33 (cam 9 may be made an integral part of wheel 10). Cam 9 operates linkage 8 which activates the counter 7. Linkage 8 comprises a push rod 34 and a connecting crank arm 35. As the cam turns, its high surface 36 forces the push rod 34 in the direction shown by arrow 37. The push rod in turn, caused crank arm 35 to pivot about point 38 as shown by arrow 39. When the crank arm pivots, register 7 is incremented. The push rod 34 is kept in contact with cam 9 by means of spring 40 (FIG. 1 The counter 7 may be viewable through window 32 in the meter housing as shown in FIG. 1.

In order to prevent unlimited credit, the counter 7 may also be locked similar to register 3, when a given credit balance is reached. The counter lock-out will be such, that only Post Office personnel will be able to disable it. Thus, it will be necessary for the user to take the meter to the Post Office every so often, but of course, less frequently as is now the case with the pre-payment system.

Many modifications, and changes to the invention will present themselves to the skilled practitioner. Other metering apparatus may be employed using the inventive teachings. Therefore, it is to be understood that the description as relates to the specific embodiments in the drawings is merely exemplary and is only presented in order to teach an understanding of theinvention.

The invention should be interpreted as having the broad teachings as expressed herein, and the spirit and scope of the invention shall not be limited to any obvious changes by the practitioner. The invention should be interpreted in conjunction with the appended claims.

What is claimed is:

1. A credit apparatus for a machine, comprising:

register means for registering the extent to which said machine has been operating;

register locking means associated with said register means for preventing further operation of the machine after a first predetermined limit of operation has been registered by said register;

disabling means including a lock, said disabling means associated with said register locking means for disabling said register locking means and for permitting said machine to continue operation and said register means to register a second predetermined limit of operation; and

means associated with said disabling means for maintaining a record of the number of times said disabling means disables the register locking means.

2. A credit apparatus for a machine, comprising:

register means for registering the extent to which said machine has been operating;

register locking means associated with said register means for preventing further operation of the machine after a first predetermined limit of operation has been registered by said register;

disabling means including a lock, said disabling means associated with said register locking means for disabling said register locking means;

means to reset the register means of the machine and allow the machine to operate until a second predetermined limit of operation is registered by said register means; and

means associated with said disabling means for maintaining a record of the number of times said disabling means disables the register locking means.

3. A method of operating a machine on a credit basis,

said machine having a register for registering the extent to which the machine has been operating, said method comprising the steps of:

a. locking said machine against further operation when a first given minimum balance is reached by said register; then b. unlocking said machine to allow further operation of the machine until a second subsequent given minimum balance is reached by said register;

c. repeating the locking and unlocking steps of (a) and (b) for subsequent operation and registry of the machine; and

d. counting the number of times the machine is unlocked and allowed to operate further.

4. The method of claim 3, wherein said register is conjointly reset every time said machine is unlocked.

5. A credit system for a metering device, comprising:

a descending register for said meter adapted to lock against further operation when a given first minimum balance is reached by said register;

means connected to said descending register to unlock said register and conjointly reset said register for further registrative operation until a second subsequent given minimum balance is reached by said register; and

counting means associated with said meter for accounting the number of times the register is unlocked and reset, whereby a running credit balance is maintained and accounted for.

6. A method of operating on a credit basis, a metering device having a descending register adapted to lock against further operation when a given minimum balance is reached by said register, the method comprising the steps of:

a. unlocking said descending register after it has locked against further operation so as to make said register operative again;

b. conjointly with the unlocking of said register, re-

setting said descending register to be registratively operative until a subsequent minimum balance is reached by said register; and

c. counting each time the register is unlocked and reset so as to maintain, and account for, a running credit balance.

7. A credit system for a metering device, comprising:

a meter having a descending register comprising a number of registery wheels one of which is a differentially geared wheel, said register adapted to lock against further operation when a given minimum balance is reached by said registry wheels;

a locking comb disposed within the meter for engaging with and locking said wheels of said descending register, when said minimum balance is reached by said registry wheels;

an actuating slide member disposed in said meter and reciprocally movable between a first position and a second position, said slide member engagable with the differentially geared wheel of said register so as to reset said register, and engagable with said locking comb so as to unlock the registery wheels of said descending register, as said slide member reciprocally moves between said first position and said second position;

means supported by said meter for reciprocally moving said slide member between said first and second positions; and

accountability means supported by said meter for keeping a record of the number of times said register is unlocked and reset, and hence, maintaining and accounting for a running credit balance for said register.

8. The credit system of claim 7, wherein the actuating slide member rotates the differentially geared wheel 18 as it moves from the first position to the second position, and again rotates the differentially geared wheel another 18 as it moves reciprocally back from said second position to said first position.

9. The credit system of claim 7, wherein the differentially geared wheel is the highest order wheel of said register.

10. The credit system of claim 7, wherein the descending register is constructed and arranged to operate in a continually descending mode, and wherein the resetting of the register requires that the register wheels of said register descendingly pass through a minimum balance position to a new reset position.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2102046 *Mar 4, 1935Dec 14, 1937 Locking system fob registering
US2339852 *Mar 14, 1942Jan 25, 1944 Register setting device
US2491214 *Jun 27, 1946Dec 13, 1949 Register wheel setting means
US3034329 *Dec 3, 1959May 15, 1962Pitney Bowes IncCombination lock device
US3251546 *Dec 24, 1964May 17, 1966Pitney Bowes IncRegister resetting means
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4082006 *Sep 30, 1976Apr 4, 1978Pitney-Bowes, Inc.Postage meter conversion apparatus
US4099049 *Nov 10, 1976Jul 4, 1978Pitney-Bowes, Inc.Ascending register lockout system for a postage meter
US4202489 *Jan 26, 1979May 13, 1980Pitney Bowes Inc.Register resetting interface
US4625275 *Apr 3, 1984Nov 25, 1986Republic Money Orders, Inc.Apparatus for dispensing money orders
US4699532 *Oct 31, 1986Oct 13, 1987Republic Money OrdersMethod and apparatus for dispensing money orders
US4724759 *Mar 23, 1987Feb 16, 1988Roneo Alcatel LimitedRotary franking machine
US4812986 *Jun 8, 1987Mar 14, 1989Republic Money Orders, Inc.Apparatus for dispensing money orders
US4870596 *Nov 16, 1987Sep 26, 1989Republic Money Orders, Inc.Method and apparatus for dispensing money orders
US4894784 *Dec 10, 1987Jan 16, 1990Republic Money Orders, Inc.Apparatus for dispensing money orders
US5014212 *Jul 27, 1990May 7, 1991Republic Money Orders, Inc.Apparatus for dispensing money orders
US5021967 *Mar 16, 1990Jun 4, 1991Republic Money Orders, Inc.Apparatus for dispensing money orders
US5119293 *Mar 16, 1990Jun 2, 1992Republic Money Orders, Inc.System and apparatus for dispensing negotiable instruments
US5369709 *Feb 25, 1994Nov 29, 1994Travelers Express Company, Inc.Apparatus for dispensing money orders
US5492423 *Mar 13, 1995Feb 20, 1996Traveler's Express Company, Inc.Method and apparatus for dispensing money orders including means to detect money orders
US5570960 *Jun 6, 1995Nov 5, 1996Travelers Express Company, Inc.Apparatus for dispensing money orders
US5647677 *Jul 22, 1996Jul 15, 1997Travelers Express Company, Inc.Apparatus for dispensing documents having monetary value
US5667315 *Jul 22, 1996Sep 16, 1997Travelers Express Company, Inc.Method and apparatus for dispensing money orders
US5678937 *Jul 22, 1996Oct 21, 1997Travelers Express Company, Inc.Apparatus for dispensing a document having monetary value
US6088684 *Jun 29, 1998Jul 11, 2000First Data CorporationSecure printer for printing financial instruments
US6864990Sep 22, 1999Mar 8, 2005Continental Express Money Order Company, Inc.Method and machine for preparing and dispensing documents
US7925595May 13, 2008Apr 12, 2011Neopost TechnologiesMethod for postage payment
EP0339915A2 *Apr 24, 1989Nov 2, 1989Pitney Bowes PLCA locking arrangement
Classifications
U.S. Classification235/101, 235/130.00R, 235/132.00R
International ClassificationG06M1/00, G06M1/04, G07F17/00, G07B17/00, G07F9/00, G07F17/26
Cooperative ClassificationG07B17/00362, G06M1/041
European ClassificationG06M1/04B, G07B17/00E3