Fred's Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

The Fred's Head blog contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Fred's Head is offered by the American Printing House for the Blind. It was voted best blindness-related blog three years in a row by BlindBargains.com.

Search This Blog

Loading...

Welcome

Fred's Head is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, who passed away on September 21, 2014. Check out the bottom of this page for: subscribing to posts via email; browsing articles by subject; subscribing to RSS feeds; APH resources; the archive of this blog; APH on YouTube; contributing articles to Fred's Head; and disclaimers.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Cranmer Modified Perkins Brailler



Our object this week is one of the first commercially available personal braille printers aimed at the home market. Although researchers had introduced braille printers such as the MIT Braillemboss as early as 1969, they were expensive, balky, and unaffordable for individual consumers.  The Cranmer, priced at under $3,000, could be connected to a home computer and used as a braille embosser or used as an electric braillewriter. It was the last project of Tim Cranmer, as Director of Technical Services for the Kentucky Department of the Blind, and engineered by Wayne Thompson. 

Prototype
The prototype of this device was the Kentucky Modified Perkins Brailler, developed in 1981-82, basically a manual Perkins Brailler stacked on a chassis full of electronics. The Cranmer Modified Perkins Brailler was its direct commercial successor—introduced in 1983--and included a lot of plastic parts to lessen the weight. Over 1,000 units were sold by Maryland Computer Services (which later became Blazie Engineering). About 30 units were also built by the local Louisville Telephone Pioneers Group. 

A big limitation was paper loading: you had to load your paper one page at a time. Later home embossers used tractor fed paper similar to dot matrix printers used in the print world. The operator’s manual was written by our late colleague Fred Gissonni, and has a good walkthrough if you’re interested in all that the machine could do.

Terrence “Tim” Cranmer was an interesting guy and a true pioneer. His obituary tells you everything you need to know.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Rare APH Product: Simple Machines Kit




Simple machines kit not assembled
This set of simple machines was developed by the Instructional Materials Reference Center at APH in order to present concepts related to scientific principles involved in the use of machines. The pulley, lever, inclined plane, and screw were included in other kits and intended for grades 4 and up. Introduced in 1975, the kits only appeared in one published catalog, in 1981, and were gone by 1984. Sales were unimpressive, only a few hundred kits were ever made so this qualifies as one of the more rare APH products.
The photograph shows the wheel unassembled, so it may be a bit hard to imagine what you’re looking at.  Basically you have a blue wooden stand, an aluminum axle, and several different wheels.

We also made a more rudimentary simple machines kit, made entirely of hardwood for younger students. The "Introductory Simple Machines" were adapted from the Crusader Science Collection manufactured by Crusader Toys, San Marcos, California. 

Thursday, July 09, 2015

APH-Modified Sony 105 Tape Recorder



APH - Sony 105 Tape Recorder

APH has a long history of collaborating with commercial electronics manufacturers to adapt their consumer products for our more specialized market. It should come as no surprise that developing electronics from scratch is an expensive and time consuming enterprise. By adapting already popular consumer models, our technical research folks cut years off the time it might take to bring a product to market. For a modern example of this, see the Orion TI-84 Talking Graphing Calculator.

Our object this week is the APH version of a popular reel-to-reel tape recorder from Sony. The first consumer tape recorders were introduced in the U.S. in the mid-1940s by the Brush Development Company. Their usefulness for students and business people who were blind or visually impaired was immediately obvious. Students could record lectures or class notes and review them later. In the office, meetings could be recorded for later review, and letters could be dictated for a secretary to type up. The first tape recorders were open reel, and APH adapted a Wollensak 1220 and introduced it in our catalog in 1965. (Incidentally, we do not have one of these in our museum collection—we only sold a few hundred—and we would love to get our hands on one.)

 APH introduced its second (and last) reel-to-reel tape player-recorder around 1969, a modified version of the Sony 105. It came in both a standard speed and a variable speed version (we have both in our collection but this example is the standard speed version). The modifications were fairly simple. The small red button beside the record button in the lower right allowed a user to add an index tone to the recording—so a particular passage could be located again quickly. The reels were self threading, and tape lifter arms that prevented playback on the commercial model during rewind or advance were removed, so the user could quickly scan through material. APH sold 5,627 of the standard speed version and 7,919 of the variable speed version before discontinuing them in 1980. By then, APH had introduced its popular line of adapted G.E. cassette tape player-recorders.

For a time, APH also issued educational programs recorded on reel-to-reel tapes. The REAL Program (Recorded Educational Aids to Learning) ran from 1955-1977.

Subscribe to receive posts via email

* indicates required

Browse Fred's Head Articles by Subject

Follow us on Twitter!

Syndication

RSS (Really Simple Syndication)

is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated digital content, such as blogs, news feeds or podcasts. Users of RSS content use programs called feed "readers" or "aggregators": the user subscribes to a feed by supplying to his or her reader a link to the feed; the reader can then check the user's subscribed feeds to see if any of those feeds have new content since the last time it checked, and if so, retrieve that content and present it to the user.

APH on YouTube

Fred's Head from APH Archives

YOU Can Contribute to Fred's Head!

Your

input and support in the evolution of Fred's Head are invaluable! Please contact us if you have suggestions for updating an existing article or adding a new article. Email us at fredshead@aph.org.

Disclaimers

The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) makes every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data contained in the Fred's Head articles; however, APH makes no warranty, guarantee, or promise, expressed or implied, concerning the content or accuracy of the information provided in Fred's Head. APH does not endorse any technique, product, device, service, organization, or other information presented in Fred's Head, other than products and services directly offered by APH.



The products produced by the American Printing House for the Blind are instructional/teaching materials and are intended to be used by trained professionals, parents, and other adults with children who are blind and visually impaired. These materials are not intended as toys for use by children in unstructured play or in an unsupervised environment.





The information and techniques contained in Fred's Head are provided without legal consideration (free-of-charge) and are not warranted by APH to be safe or effective. All users of this service assume the risk of any injury or damage that may result from the use of the information provided.





Information in Fred's Head is not intended as a substitute for professional advice or treatment. Consult your physician before utilizing information regarding your health that may be presented on this site. Consult other professionals as appropriate for legal, financial, and related advice.





Fred's Head articles may contain links to other websites. APH is not responsible for the content of these sites.





Fred's Head articles created by APH staff are (C) copyright American Printing House for the Blind, Inc. You must request permission from APH to reprint these articles. Email fredshead@aph.org to request permission.





Any submissions to Fred's Head should be free of copyright restrictions and should be the intellectual property of the submitter. By submitting information to Fred's Head, you are granting APH permission to publish this information.





Fair Use Notice: This website may contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright holder(s). This site is operated on the assumption that using this information constitutes 'fair use' of said copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law.





Opinions appearing in Fred's Head records are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Printing House for the Blind.