US 3895220 A
A magnetically encodable envelope insert includes a plurality of detachable portions connected to each other and to a main central portion along weakened lines, and the detachable portions contain code bars so that the word, instruction or other quantity represented by the code bars of the insert may be selectively varied by tearing off from the remainder of the insert selected numbers of the detachable portions. Also a processing mechanism is provided for sorting the inserts according to the coded instructions of the inserts while the inserts remain in their envelopes. The processing mechanism is modularized so that it may be assembled as required to accommodate any given number of different code words or counts capable of being represented by the code bars of the inserts.
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United States Patent 1191 Nelson et al.
LEEST AVAXLABLE COW [1 l] 1451 July 15, 1975 SELECTIVELY ENCODABLE ENVELOPE INSERT AND RELATED APPARATUS  Inventors: Larry L. Nelson, Homestead; John R. Dehart, Coral Gables; William H. Krehl, Homestead, all of Fla.
 Assignee: Docutronix, Inc., Homestead, Fla.
 Filed: Sept. 7, 1973  Appl. No.: 395,007
3,652,830 3/1972 Kessler 235/61.12 N 3,663,802 5/1972 Wi1dhaber.... 235/6l.l2 M 3,704,781 12/1972 Lanahan 235/61.12 R 3,755,655 8/1973 Senecal 235/6l.12 R
Primary ExaminerDaryl W. Cook Assistant ExaminerRobert M. Kilgore Attorney, Agent, or F irm-McCormick, Paulding & Huber [5 7] ABSTRACT A magnetically encodable envelope insert includes a plurality of detachable portions connected to each other and to a main central portion along weakened lines, and the detachable portions contain code bars so that the word, instruction or other quantity represented by the code bars of the insert may be selectively varied by tearing off from the remainder of the insert selected numbers of the detachable portions.
 References Cited Also a processing mechanism is provided for sorting UNITED STATES PATENTS the inserts according to the coded instructions of the 2 709 00 5,1955 Stab] 235/61 12 R inserts while the inserts remain in their envelopes. The 2 779 540 1/1957 1166 1151161 .1:111:23: 235/61I12 R Processing mechanism is modularized so that it y 3:035:764 5/1962 Beman 235 619 R be assembled as required to accommodate y given 3,052,350 9/1962 Marcovitz... 209/74 number of different code words or counts capable of 3,087,612 4/1963 Duncan 209/74 being represented by the code bars of the inserts. 3,378,674 4/1968 Unk 235/61.12 R 3,482,082 12/1969 1516611 235/6l.12 R 9 Clalms, 4 Drawmg Flgures Detach and discord i i I this portion if paying 1 Always return this portion with your order l 24 l 26 28 3o Y Posm' Money Insert in envelope behind punch card. I Order. [8 2 1 [l8 .8 i
l Do NOT FOLD l I n 1 1 i ABC COMPANY i 1 l ORDER I l 1 NUMBER or UNITS 05511250 I I IF paying by check Detach 0nd discord A- |1 -1| A- 2-Defc1ch and discard B gg ggt this 3-Detc1ch and discordC-- T P d-Deroch and discordD- IC- T 5-Do not detach any of the right hand portio+s. i i D SELECTIVELY ENCODABLE' ENVELOPE INSERT AND RELATED APPARATUS I BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION. 1
This invention relates to encodable envelope inserts which have a configuration ofcode bits,,in the form of bars of magnetizable ink, thereon and which include one or more code bar carrying detachable portions connected to the remainder of the insert by weakened lines, such as lines of spaced slits or perforations, so that the code word or bar count of the insert is changed by selectively detaching said detachable portions. The invention also relates to apparatus for sorting and col lecting said inserts in accordance with the instructions represented by the code bars thereof.
The prior art includes coded envelope insert cards which are capable of being magnetically encoded and used with various types of sorting mechanisms. However, each card usually has a coded instruction applied thereto by machine andno provision is made for allowing a user to manually vary or establish the coded instruction.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION A primary object of the present invention is to provide a manually encodable envelope insert which is readily encoded without the need'for any implements and wherein the code is of such a nature that it may be read when the insert is contained in an envelope or sim ilar carrier. In keeping with the invention, such an envelope insert includes a number of magnetizable ink bars at least a number of which are applied to detachable strip portions so that the user may manually encode the insert by selectively removing the aforementioned strip portions.
A further object of the present invention is to provide a manually encodable envelope insert in which the code means consists of a plurality of bars of magnetized ink so arranged that each insert will be correctly read by a code sensor as the envelopes are passed successively endwise past the sensor, regardless of whether the insert is placed in the envelope with its front face facing the front panel of the envelope or with its front face facing the rear panel of the envelope, the insert being of sucha shape and size that, regardless of the number of detachable portions removed therefrom, it can be placed in its envelope only with its longitudinal centerline parallel to the longitudinal centerline of the envelope to further assure proper reading by the code sensor.
A further object of the present invention is to provide an envelope insert in which detachable strips containing magnetic code bits or bars are connected along weakened lines to opposite ends of a relatively large central portion of the insert and in which the code word carried by the insert is changed by strip removal in a manual tear off" fashion, wherein the insert central portion and the coded detachable strips cooperate to define a flat insert of selected height, and wherein advertising matter, operating instructions and the like may be nonmagnetically printed onto the insert without affecting the magnetic coding thereof.
It is a still further object of the present invention to provide envelope inserts such as aforesaid which are capable of being mechanically sorted and collected according to magnetically .encoded words while contained in envelopes or similar carriers, by mechanism which is modularized and which can be built up or reduced as desired to accommodate the number of code word possibilities provided for by the coding means of the inserts.
A further object of this invention is to provide an encodable envelope insert for use with a magnetic code reading sorting system, which insert is easy and low in cost to manufacture, which is easy to encode, which whenso encoded is readily decoded through an envelope, and which forms a card-like member of selected dimension and is capable of lying flat, and further, wherein code changes effected by manually tearing off selected strips of the insert do not affect the insert height.
Other objects and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following detailed description of a preferred embodiment thereof.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a plan view of a manually encodable envelope insert comprising one embodiment of this invention.
FIG. 2 is a sectional view taken on line 2-2 of FIG. 1, the thickness of the ink bar being exaggerated for clarity.
FIG. 3 is a plan view of a stuffed and sealed envelope containing an insert similar to that of FIG. 1, the envelope and its contents being shown partially broken away to reveal the insert.
FIG. 4 is a schematic illustration ofa sorting apparatus for sorting envelopes containing inserts such as shown in FIG. 1.
A DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Viewing FIGS. 1 and 2, these figures show a magnetically readable and manually encodable envelope insert 10 which embodies the present invention and which is basically a flat card or piece of paper of rectangular shape, which shape and dimension is selected to suit a related envelope into which the insert is to be inserted for mailing or other transporting. The insert 10 includes a relatively large central or main portion 12 and detachable secondary portions 14 and 16a, 16b, 16c and 16d attached to the opposite ends thereof. Inserts similar to the insert 10 may be used in a great variety of situations in each of which the user manually encodes an insert before inserting it into an envelope and wherein the coded word, instruction or other information of the insert may be read through the use of a magnetic sensor while the insert, if desired, remains in the envelope. For example, the illustrated insert 10 is designed as a mail order form for use in ordering a particular item, in quantities of from one to five units, and may be encoded by the user to indicate the number of units desired and method of payment. As other possibilities, the encoding of the insert could be used to indicate a customer number or type of customer to allow insert containing mail to be sorted by customer number or type; it could be used to indicate suspense dates to allow past-due bills to be selected and acted upon quickly; or it could be used to indicate the type of form, such as an Internal Revenue form, enclosed in the envelope with the insert to allow those envelopes containing certain forms to be sorted from those containing other forms.
As mentioned, the code of the illustrated envelope insert of FIG. 1 communicates both the method of payment which a customer is using in making a mail order to a merchandising organization and also communicates the quantity of goods which the customer is ordering. The detachable portion 14 at the left-hand end of the insert is used to communicate the method of payment and includes five parallel bars 18, 18 of magnetizable ink. The detachable portion 16a, 1612. I60 and 1641 at the righthand end of the insert each contain one bar 18 of magnetizable ink and the central or main portion 12 of the insert includes one additional bar 18 of magnetic ink. The bars l8, 18 may be applied to the insert by a conventional printing process. The bar 18 on the central portion, together with the bars 18, 18 on the detachable portions 16a to 16d, are used to communicate the number of units of goods desired. The end portion 14 and the end portions 16a to 16d are connected to one another and to the main portion of the insert by weakened lines 22, 24, 26, 28 and 30 along which the insert may be readily torn to remove one or more of the detachable portions from the insert. As illustrated, the weakened lines are formed by a series of spaced slits in the stock of the insert, but they could also be formed by perforations or other means readily applied to the insert stock during the manufacture of the insert.
In accordance with the printed instructions given on the illustrated insert 10, the sender leaves the left-hand end portion 14 attached to the central portion 12 if payment is being made by check or manually tears off the end portion 14 along the weakened line 22 if payment is being made by Postal Money Order. Similarly. and in accordance with the instructions printed on the insert 10, if the customer wishes to order only a single unit of the goods in question, right-hand end portions 16:! to 1611 are torn from the central portion 14 along the weakened line 24. If two, three or four units of goods are being ordered. the customer tears along weakened lines 26, 28 or 30, respectively. If five units of goods are being ordered, none of the portions 16a to 1611 are removed.
To give a specific example, consider that a customer wishes to order four units of goods and to pay by check. In this case he merely leaves end portions 14 attached to central portion 12 and tears off the end portion 161! along weakened line 30. Since this leaves nine bars 18, 18 remaining on the insert. this would be called a nine count insert. Actually, it will be understood from inspection of FIG. 1 that by tearing selected ones of the end portions 14 and 16a to 16d from the insert 10, the insert may be made to selectively contain any bar count of from I to 10. Each count in turn represents a different piece of information in accordance with the following code:
Count l lessage Payment by Payment by Payment by Payment by Payment by Pay ment by Payment by The encoding of the insert 10 requires no special equipment and can be readily done by the customer manually prior to inserting the insert 10 into an evenlope by merely tearing the insert 10 along one or more of the weakened lines disclosed in FIG. 1, depending upon the number of units ordered and method of payment involved.
The bars l8, 18, as mentioned, are of magnetizable ink and are preferably so positioned on the insert 10 that they may be magnetized and read by a single magnetizing head and a single sensing head in the sorting mechanism regardless of whether the insert is placed in the envelope with its front face facing the front panel of the envelope or with its front face facing the rear panel of the envelope. Such an arrangement is present in the illustrated insert 10 of FIG. 1 wherein each bar 18 passes through and is symmetrical about the longitudinal centerline of the insert, it being assumed that the magnetizing head and the sensing head of the sorting apparatus will be located so as the envelopes containing the inserts are moved past the heads, the heads will be located approximately at the middle of the height of the envelopes. If the magnetizing head and the reading head are to be positioned substantially to one side of the longitudinal centerline of the envelopes passed thereby, the bars 18, 18 of the insert 10 may be made of a length substantially longer than that illustrated in FIG. 1 to assure that a portion of each bar will be passed past the heads regardless of the manner in which the insert is placed in the envelope. In this latter case the middle portion of each bar could be omitted to, in effect, form each bar into two separate bars each located to one side of the longitudinal centerline of the insert. Also, as will be evident from FIGS. 1 and 3, the central portion 12 of the insert 10 has a length, longitudinally of the insert 10, greater than the height of the envelope 34 with which the insert is used so that the insert can be placed in the envelope only with its longitudinal centerline parallel to the longitudinal centerline of the envelope regardless of the number of detachable portions removed therefrom. That is, even if all of the detachable portions 14 and 16a to 16d are removed from the insert. leaving only the central portion 12, this remaining central portion 12 has a length greater than the height of the envelope so that it can only be placed in the envelope 34 with its longitudinal centerline parallel to the longitudinal centerline of the envelope, thereby insuring that the code bar 18 of the central portion is 'oriented to cause it to be magnetized and read by the magnetizing and reading heads of the sorting apparatus. In FIG. 3 the insert 10 is shown contained in the envelope 34 along with an additional form 32 which contains a return address visible through a window 36 in the front panel of the envelope. It will be appreciated, however, that the style of envelope used and the type of other forms placed in the envelope with the insert of this invention may vary widely.
Apparatus for reading the code of inserts contained in envelopes such as shown in FIG. 3 and for sorting such envelopes in accordance with the coded information on the inserts is shown schematically in FIG. 4. The electronic circuitry and hardware which performs the sorting and other functions of the apparatus of FIG. 4 may be selected from a great variety of available technology. as will be evident to those skilled in the art, and hence a schematic representation and description thereof only will be given herein.
An important feature of the mail processing unit 36 shown in FIG. 4 is that it is divided into a number of modularized sections. This affords great flexibility to the apparatus in that a set of desired functions can be had by merely adding or removing modules of the mechanism. The novelty of the FIG. 4 configuration lies in the combination of mechanisms used in the manner now to be described.
in the FIG. 4 apparatus, a mail feed section 38 is provided as the input module and feeds envelopes in endwise succession to an edit section 46. The feed section 38 may, for example, be a device similar to that shown in US. Pat. No. 3,647,203. The edit section 46 includes electronic circuitry to determine envelope length and thickness. If an envelope is over a preselected length, it is directed through appropriate gating to a Too Long" pocket 48, and if under a selected length, the envelope is directed to a Too Short" pocket 50. Envelopes which are too thick to be machine-processed will also be fed to one of the pockets 48 or 50. Envelopes of the proper dimension are automatically passed on by the edit section 46 to an opener section 52 in which they are transported through an opener which removes the lower longitudinal edge of each envelope. This opener may, for example, be of the type shown in US. Pat. application Ser. No. 57,045, filed July 22, 1970. The opener section 52 may be eliminated from the system if it is not desired to open the envelopes in question or it may be placed before the edit section 46 if all envelopes are to be opened regardless of size.
Assuming that opener 52 is in the system, the opened envelopes are automatically fed from the opener to a read section 54 in which the envelopes are first moved past a magnetizing head to magnetize the code bars 18, 18 of the inserts carried by the envelopes and are then moved past a reading head. The reading head detects the code bars 18, i8 appearing on the insert of each envelope and, for each envelope, the bar count is transferred to a logic section 60 where such information is temporarily stored in an electronic storage. From the read section 54 the envelopes then pass in endwise succession to a sorter 62 consisting of six modularized sections 63, 63, referred to as pocket sections, arranged end to end in a series relationship so that each envelope moves in succession through the pocket sections until it is gated to its designated destination by one of the pocket sections. As each envelope moves down the sorter 62, from pocket section to pocket section, its bar count or address is simultaneously moved with it from one to the next of a series of six registers 65, 65, referred to as Reg. 1 to Reg. 6, each forming a part of the correspondingly numbered pocket section. Each pocket section has four pockets or bins 66, 66 to which envelopes may be gated. Two of these pockets are assigned to envelopes of the same bar count or address and the other two are assigned to envelopes of another bar count or address. The logic section 60 keeps a count of mail which goes into each pocket, including that which goes into the no code and non-readable pockets provided by the last pocket section, Pocket Section 6.
in the operation of the sorter 62 an envelope is first transmitted to Pocket Section 1. As the envelope enters Pocket Section 1 it passes an electronic detector 64, which may be a photodetector. and a signal is established to cause the logic section 60 to transfer the bar count or address of the envelope to Register 1 so that the bar count or address of the envelope can be compared with the addresses of the pockets provided by Pocket Section 1. If, for example, the envelope has a bar count or address of one, it is gated by Pocket Section 1 into one of the 1 count" pockets of Pocket Section 1. By appropriate circuitry in the logicsection 60, a count of the number of envelopes going into each pocket of the sorter is maintained, and'in addition to the bar count or basic address for each envelope the logic section adds to the information passed to the registers an additional identifier or subaddress indicating one or the other of the two pockets assigned to the bar count in question depending on the number of envelopes previously gated to said pocket. For example. the logic may act to direct the first one hundred envelopes of a particular bar count to one of the two assigned pockets and to direct the next one hundred envelopes of such bar count to the other of the two assigned pockets, and to repeatedly thereafter switch from one pocket to the other after each one hundred count. Therefore, when one of the pockets is being filled, the operator may remove the envelopes from the previously filled alternate pocket and the operator will know that each removed group of envelopes totals one hundred envelopes. I
If the address or bar count of an envelope is not a one count or a two count, its address will not compare with that of any of the pockets of Pocket Section 1". Therefore, the envelope will be transmitted to Pocket Section 2 and its address information will be transferred from Register 1 to Register 2 as the envelope passesthe detector associated with Pocket Section 2. ln Pocket'Section 2 the envelope address is compared with the addresses of the pockets presented by this section and it is gated to the appropriate pocket if a favorable comparison is made. If no favorable comparison is made, the process is repeated with the envelope and its address moving on to the subsequent pocket sections and registers until it finally reaches its proper pocket destination. 7
If an envelope does not contain a coded insert or if its code is unreadable, as for example, by virtue of containing two coded inserts, it will be transmitted through all of the prior pocket sections to Pocket Section 6 which accepts such no code" or unreadable code envelopes in its pockets. 2
It will be evident that due to the modular form of the processing apparatus 36, a greater number of pocket sections or a lesser number of pocket sections may be used as required to provide sorting and sortage facilities appropriate to the number of bar counts or addresses capable of being set up by the code bars of the inserts.
As used herein the term envelope insert" means any type of card-like member which may be mailed or otherwise transported either in an envelope or independently of an envelope. It should also be understood that the invention is not limited to the exact details of construction shown and described, for obvious modifications will occur to a person skilled in the art.
1. A flat, rectangular encodable envelope insert of sheet material, said insert including:
a. a central portion having non-magnetized printed instructions of use thereon,
b. end portions connected to opposite ends of said central portion,
c. lines of weakening connecting said e'nd portions to said central portion, and
d. code means in the form of a plurality of printed bars of magnetizable ink spaced from one another along a line extending longitudinally of said insert and the sum of which bars is the code of said insert, at least some of said bars being located on said end portions so that said bars convey selected information when both of said end portions are connected to said central portion and so that the information conveyed by said bars changes as either of said end portions is severed from said central portion.
2. An envelope insert according to claim 1 wherein at least one of said end portions includes a plurality of strip members defined by and connected to each other and to said main portion by a plurality of spaced parallel lines of weakening, each of said strip members containing one of said bars.
3. Apparatus for processing envelopes containing inserts magnetically coded so that each insert includes a coded address selected from a plurality of possible code addresses, said apparatus being operable to cause envelopes with inserts bearing similar coded addresses to be collected together and comprising: a reader for reading the coded addresses on the inserts of envelopes fed in succession thereto, a logic means operable to temporarily store the coded address of each insert as it is read by said reader, and a sorting means operably connected to said reader and adapted to receive envelopes from said reader in succession after passing through said reader, said sorting means including a plurality of pocket sections serially arranged so that envelopes in passing through said sorting means pass in succession from one to the next of said pocket sections until reaching their final destinations, each of said pocket sections including a register, means for transferring the coded address associated with a particular envelope from said logic means to the register associated with the first of said pocket sections as said envelope moves to said first pocket section, means for causing the coded address in the register of one of said pocket sections to be transferred to the register of the next pocket section as the envelope associated with said coded address moves from said one pocket section to said next pocket section. each of said pocket sections including a plurality of pockets each having a particular address. each of said pocket sections including a means for comparing the coded address in its register with the addresses of its pockets and to direct the associated envelope into a pocket if the coded address of the envelope corresponds with that of the pocket and to transmit the envelope to the next succeeding pocket section if the coded address of the envelope does not compare with any of the addresses of its pockets.
4. A manually encodable card having a longitudinal axis, made from a piece of sheet material, and readable by passage parallel to said longitudinal axis past a reading head, said card comprising a main portion having one end edge perpendicular to said longitudinal axis, a plurality of secondary portions arranged end to end along said longitudinal axis, one of said secondary portions being connected to said one end edge of said main portion by a first line of weakening extending transversely across said card and defining said one end edge, said secondary portions being connected to one another and defined by other lines of weakening extending transversely across said card and spaced from one another along said longitudinal axis whereby any selected number of said secondary portions may be removed from said main portion by tearing along a corresponding one of said lines of weakening, and a plurality of machine detectable code bits on said card arranged in longitudinally spaced relationship to one another along a line parallel to said longitudinal axis and the sum of which code bits is the code of said card, said code bits being further so arranged that one and only one of said code bits is located on each of said secondary portions so that when a selected number of said secondary portions are removed from said main portion a corresponding number of said code bits are likewise removed to alter the sum of said code bits remaining with said main portion.
5. A manually encodable card as defined in claim 4 further characterized by said code bits being printed bars of magnetizable ink.
6. A manually encodable card as defined in claim 4 further characterized by said plurality of code bits including one on said main portion of said card.
7. A manually encodable card as defined in claim 4 further characterized by said main portion having a second end edge parallel to said first end edge, and a further secondary portion located adjacent said second end edge of said main portion and connected to said main portion by a further line of weakening extending transversely across said card and defining said second end edge, said plurality of machine detectable code bits including a sub-plurality thereoflocated on said further secondary portion.
8. A manually encodable card as defined in claim 7 wherein:
a. N the total number of code bits in said plurality of code bits, and
b. N/2 the number of code bits of said plurality of code bits on said further secondary portion.
9. A manually encodable card as defined in claim 7 wherein:
a. N the total number of code bits in said plurality of code bits,
b. N/2 the number of code bits of said plurality of code bits on said further secondary portion,
c. one code bit of said plurality of code bits is located on said main portion, and
d. (N/Z-l the total number of said first mentioned secondary portions each of which contains one of said plurality of code bits.
Citations de brevets