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John Paschoud: Printing Braille Programmes

I don't know if I can add much to the Blind Programmers story.  I never actually met any (of the blind programmers), and I think it must actually have been when I was Ops SDPO at Barbican NDPS Computer Centre (which was trials and EE System4, rather than production and LEO326, with most of the programmer teams based at Docos House a short distance away).  But they were very similar to the barrel line-printers on the 326s at Charles House, Kensington CC.  The process involved fitting a rubber sheet about 0.5mm thick between the hammer array and paper, and removing the ink ribbon, so that printing dots in Braille code would leave raised dots on the paper.  Then adjusting the hammer force carefully so they didn't actually puncture the paper.

I used the same technique a few years later, on a much later timesharing mainframe (a DECSystem-10) because a completely blind little boy joined the Cub Scout pack where my wife was a leader.  So we found software to translate the text of some of the Cub Scout Handbook into Braille, and I made a Braille-print kit for our lineprinter and 'borrowed' it for a few evenings.

See also Tom Brooks memoir.

Date : 2020

This exhibit has a reference ID of CH62989. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.

John Paschoud: Printing Braille Programmes

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