Throwback Thursday Object: Voyager XL CCD Video Magnifier

Our object this week is an early video magnifier.  It was purchased second-hand by the donor, Pat Humphrey, circa 1985 from a Louisville Telesensory dealer, Dick Barnett, for $3,000. Low vision all her life, by the time she entered high school it had deteriorated to the point that she "couldn't read the blackboard."  Humphrey hid her visual abilities and remembered that "lots of people did not know I was blind."  She even drove a car, "though I knew I shouldn't."  After making do with optical magnifiers for years, she was delighted to acquire this unit, using it to read her mail and write checks.  A platter beneath the camera slides out and holds your reading material.  By moving the platter under the camera, you can scan around the document.  The picture from the camera is reproduced on the television monitor above.
The first closed circuit television or “CC-TV” units were developed by Samuel Genensky and his team at the Rand Corporation in the late 1960s.  By the early 1980s, there were a variety of models on the market.  The Voyager was a brand of Visualtek in Santa Monica, CA.  Visualtek was bought by Telesensory in 1989.  Telesensory Systems was a leading accessibility technology firm founded in 1970 at Stanford University.  By the 1980s they were beginning to focus exclusively on low vision products like the Voyager.  I found a video of one being used here.
Micheal A. Hudson
Museum Director
American Printing House for the Blind


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