Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

(See the end of this page for subscribing via email, RSS, browsing articles by subject, blog archive, APH resources, writing for Fred's Head, and disclaimers.)


Thursday, May 05, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Possum Moon Typewriter

Our object this week is a typewriter that wrote in an interesting tactile code that continues to be used to this day, Moon-Type.    The Possum Moon Writer was introduced in 1986.  On the front of the machine, which looks like a yellow typewriter without keys, is what the developer called a “master pad”--a metal plate with indented lines from which the Moon characters are composed. The user inserted their right index finger into a metal ring attached to a lever above the master pad and traced the shape of the character on the pad. This transmitted the shape of the character to the writing mechanism and pushed a stylus to inscribe a small version of the character onto paper. Dr. William Moon introduced his alphabet-based tactile system for reading and writing in 1847.  He considered it superior to other forms of raised letters because he felt his letter shapes were more legible.  The first mechanical Moon writer was introduced in 1908 by his daughter, Adelaide.  The system experienced some popularity in Great Britain, which declined after the adoption of braille, but it continues to be produced in small quantities there by the Royal National Institute for the Blind.  There is nothing to suggest the Possum experienced anything beyond a minimal run, although it did generate some research in British blindness research magazines.  Just as a note:  the “Possum” name, colorful as it is, has nothing to do with William Moon.  The machine was developed by Possum Controls Ltd., a British manufacturer of accessibility products.

No comments:

Subscribe to receive posts via email

* indicates required

Browse Articles by Subject

Follow us on Twitter


Write for us

Your input and support in the evolution of Fred's Head are invaluable! Contact us about contributing original writing or for suggestions for updating existing articles. Email us at


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 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.