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.

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Throwback Thursday Object: Triformation BD-3 Embosser

The BD-3 was Triformation's first braille embosser, released in 1971. The BD-3 was the first commercially available digital braille embosser in the U.S.  On the outside it looks like a normal American Tourister suitcase.  On the inside you get the deluxe mid-century faux woodgrain table with a reel of paper tape, a covered embossing head, and a small row of switches, lights, and jacks.  It was described as a "braille verifier," producing braille copy on paper tape as regular copy was typed, either by a teletype machine, or a computer terminal.  It weighed 15 pounds and cost $1,850.  Triformation's full sheet embosser, the LED-120, became available in June 1974, and although more expensive, $9,000, it was much more popular.
This example was obtained by Howard Goldstein while studying computer science at the University of Connecticut in 1976.  It was connected to a Teletype Model 33 teleprinter, producing braille on paper tape as the teleprinter produced print.  According to Goldstein, he did not use the BD-3 very much.  He found moving from the teleprinter keyboard to read the tape was too awkward and slow. It was faster to have someone read out the output of the teletype than use the BD-3.
Photo Caption: The Triformation BD-3 Embosser fit into a small American Tourister suitcase and embossed on paper tape.
Micheal A. Hudson
Museum Director
American Printing House for the Blind

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