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, June 21, 2018

Throwback Thursday: McElroy Point Writer


Our object this week is the McElroy Point Writer.  James F. McElroy, the superintendent of the Michigan School for the Blind (1880-1887), patented his writing machine for people who were blind in 1888. APH purchased the rights to this machine for $300 in 1887 and had 47 of them manufactured in 1888 by a Louisville hardware company, Tafel Brothers. The writer was listed in the APH catalog from 1889-1893. This machine is number nineteen.  The Point Writer was not a braillewriter.  Braille was not widely used at that point in the U.S.  It wrote in New York Point, the dot code invented by William B. Wait in New York in 1868.  Wait would invent his own point writing machine in 1894, but neither writer prevented the eventual triumph of the Braille System.

(Caption:  Mounted on a wooden board, the McElroy had four keys on top of a carriage that moved above a shiny nickel plated toothed bar over a brass embossing plate.  Paper guides are mounted on the left.)

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