Inventor Robert Homer Keaton (1883 – 1975) first made his mark with a non-skid tire, patented in 1910 and sold through the Keaton Tire & Rubber Company. This typewriter hammers out musical notations, not letters and numbers.
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This early success undoubtedly funded Keaton’s future ventures in the wide world of typewriters. His first contribution to writing machines was in 1936 when Keaton Music Typewriter received a patent for a music writing machine. It was a 14-key predecessor to his later model. That later model being a 33-key upgrade, which was patented in 1953.
This included improvements to the machine. The machine types on a sheet of paper lying flat under the typing mechanism.
The Keaton Music typewriters were produced in two batches, this one stemming from 1953 and has the more elaborate keyboard. They were made with the idea that musicians would be able to quickly and precisely write out their compositions. A typewriter for music. It didn’t work as well, typing music is more laborious than typing words and it never really caught on.
“The Keaton Music Typewriter looked very different from a regular typewriter. It had two keyboards, one which was moveable and one stationary.
There are several Keaton music typewriters thought to be in existence in museums and private collections. It was marketed in the 1950s and sold for around $225. The typewriter made it easier for publishers, educators, and other musicians to produce music copies in quantity. Composers, however, preferred to write the music out by hand.
The typewriter itself utilizes downstrike typebars to print musical notes on the staff paper that’s laying flat. As with all typewriters, its primary goal was to expedite the writing process. With a Keaton, the user could generate multiple copies at one time.
Keaton Music Typewriter was heavily marketed in the mid-1950s to music teachers, publishers and other folks affiliated with the music but the machines failed to reach a significant audience so they were never produced in large quantities. Its downfalls were, first, the $225 price tag, which was particularly high.