First patented in 1936 and improved upon in 1953, the ingenious design of the Keaton Music Typewriter shows exactly how music was typed before modern computers.
Invented by Robert H. Keaton from San Francisco, California, this beautiful music typewriter has since become a rare collector’s item with only a small handful thought to be in existence in museums and private collections.
According to Keaton, “One keyboard is adapted to type one class of music characters such as bar lines and ledger lines, which, when repeated, always appear in the same relative spaced positions with respect to the [staff] lines… and a second keyboard adapted to type another class of musical characters, such as the notes, rest signs and sharp and flat signs etc., which may, when repeated, appear in various spaced positions with respect to the [staff] lines.”
Since the traditional way of creating music notes was to grave them on to metal plates for printing the Keaton typewriter was not a huge success. However, due to its nostalgia appeal it has become quite the collector’s item with online auctions reaching the thousands of dollars.
Keaton Music Typewriter
Photo: Marcin Wichary
Marketed in the 1950s and sold for $255 a piece
Photo: Live Auctioneers via Music Printing History
Photo: Music Printing History
Here’s a sample of the typed music
Here it is in action
Pretty cool huh!? For even more information about this music typewriter you can check out Music Printing History!
h/t: The Mind Circle