Wonderful Engineering

Keaton Music Typewriter From The 1950s Lets You Type Sheet Music

A lot of the composers prefer to write their sheet music with hands. However, with time, different machines have been introduced for helping with printing music. The coolest of them all is the Keaton Music Typewriter. It was first patented in 1936 and most definitely stands out from your standard typewriter. Robert H. Keaton from San Francisco, California was the man behind the creation of this contraption. His product has now become a kind of a rare collector’s item.

The original patent features only 14 keys. It was upgraded to house 33 keys in an improved patent that was put forth in 1953. The Keaton Music Typewriter was market in the 1950s and was sold at a price of $225. The machine stood out from conventional typewriters because of its circular keyboard. Keaton was focused on coming up with something that would be capable of printing characters on staff with high-precision and be able to indicate precisely where the next character would be printed.

Keaton wrote, ‘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.’

Keaton Music Typewriter has a unique arrangement of keys. It features a curved meter on the left that Keaton named Scale Shift Handle and Scale Shift Indicator. It is very easy to control where the notes and characters will be printed on the page. Simply by moving the handle up or down a notch, the typewriter can adjust to print 1/24th inch in either director.

A long needle was featured to help musicians know exactly where they were going to type. It is hard to tell if the product was a commercial success owing to the niche nature of it. However, Keaton Music Typewriter sure does classify as an amazing and rare collectible. It can be found on eBay and other online auctions. What do you think of Keaton Music Typewriter? Do let us know!