Clemens had a lifelong fascination with technology. He owned a succession of early typewriters, the first purchased in 1874; had a telephone installed in his Hartford home just a few months after the Bell Telephone Company was organized in 1877; and invested in the dreams of more than one inventor, most notably James W. Paige, whose typesetting machine had 18,000 custom parts and could be kept running only sporadically. Clemens invested and lost more than $150,000 in this imperfectible machine.
He also was an inventor himself, receiving three patents in his lifetime: in 1871 for an adjustable garment strap, in 1873 for a scrapbook with pre-gummed pages, and in 1885 for a board game to teach historical dates and facts.
The garment strap was never manufactured, but it embroiled Clemens for years in a legal dispute with a rival inventor; the history game got only as far as the prototype stage and was probably doomed by its complexity; the scrapbook was produced and earned a modest profit for decades.