Miss Polkadot: Hall Braille Typewriter

The visually handicapped and the blind cannot read or write in the eighteenth century.
In the eighteen eighties, the Frenchman Valentin Hauy at last does something about this in his school for the blind in Paris. He makes books in which the letters are raised above the page. Only problem: the letters are so big that one sentence takes up a whole page ...

Blind countess

The Italian Pellegrino Turri di Castelnuovo elaborates further on this idea when he designs a typewriter for countess Carolina Fantoni da Fivizzonno. Her letters have been wonderfully well preserved!

This path continues further in the nineteenth century, as for example with the French Raphigraphe. It has a fan of 10 rods that all carry a stylized part of certain letters. To form an  'A', four keys have to be pressed at the same time.


To adapt normal letters for the visually handicapped seems be a roundabout way of doing things as there is already an alphabet system for the blind: Braille. The Frenchman Louis Braille becomes blind when he is three, but is eager to learn. He comes in contact with the system that the Military use to read messages at night - a system of raised dots and lines. He simplifies this to six points in unique combinations with which he forms all letters, numbers and punctuation marks. In 1929, the Braille alphabet is ready for use.

This, for example, is Typewriter.be in Braille:

Write your own name in Braille>

Board and pen

The first Braille writers are far from user friendly: they are made up of a board with holes which you press through with a pen - holes are made instead of raised dots. Result: you have to write from right to left in Braille mirror writing!

Hall & Perkins

This at last changes in 1892 with the Braille writer (or 'Brailler') made by Hall.
It has six keys, that you press in the correct sequence after which they are struck with a hammer from the bottom (comparable to a Hammond).

In 1951, the popular
and extremely solid
Perkins Brailler follows.





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