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The Raphigraphy


The visually readable dot-writing by Louis Braille (new window) 1839.

Text 'the Raphigraphy' in Raphigraphy

After the dot writing by Louis Braille slowly became established as an effective writing for the blind, a new problem arose: Braille's classmates now wanted to write letters home, but nobody could read their scriptures there. That's why Louis Braille developed another dot writing system that enabled the blind students to write to relatives and friends who could not read Braille.


Farbbild von Louis Braille

In 1839 he published his new dot writing, which was later to be named Raphigraphy, in a small booklet. This contained long columns of numbers, with which the small and capital letters of the Latin alphabet as well as numbers and punctuation marks could be formed only from dots. Its characters were up to 10 dots high (which is why the font in English Decapoint (new window) was called) and different widths. For the first time, the blind people were able to write clean Latin letters with this numerical code!

Text 'by Louis Braille' in Raphigraphy



Raphigraphy Alphabet

Raphigraphy Alphabet
  ---------- Table Raphigraphy Alphabet: ----------
  Corrected extract by Alexander Fakoó (without the French umlauts)

  Each characters of the raphigraphy alphabet consist of 10 lines
  and any number of columns:
    Line 1:  [1] [1] ...
    Line 2:  [2] [2] ...
    Line 3:  [3] [3] ...
    Line 4:  [4] [4] ...
    Line 5:  [5] [5] ...
    Line 6:  [6] [6] ...
    Line 7:  [7] [7] ...
    Line 8:  [8] [8] ...
    Line 9:  [9] [9] ...
    Line 10: [0] [0] ...

  The dot-occupancy is therefore given in columns below
  (column1) (column2) (column3) (column4) and so on.
  The dots always count from top to bottom, the dot in line 10
   is denoted by 0 in the following table:

  _lowercase letters
  Character a   =    d56 + d47 + d47 + d3456 + d7
  Character b   =    d123456 + d47 + d47 + d56
  Character c   =    d56 + d47 + d47
  Character d   =    d56 + d147 + d147 + dP23456
  Character e   =    d56 + d457 + d457
  Character f   =    d9 + d0 + d23456789 + d14 + d2
  Character g   =    d56 + d470 + d470 + d3456789
  Character h   =    d1234567 + d4 + d4567 + d7
  Character i   =    d24567 + d7
  Character j   =    d9 + d0 + d2456789
  Character k   =    d1234567 + d56 + d47
  Character l   =    d1234567 + d7
  Character m   =    d4567 + d4 + d4567 + d4 + d4567 + d7
  Character n   =    d4567 + d4 + d4567 + d7
  Character o   =    d56 + d47 + d47 + d56
  Character p   =    d34567890 + d47 + d47 + d56
  Character q   =    d56 + d47 + d47 + d34567890
  Character r   =    d4567 + d4 + d4
  Character s   =    d6 + d7 + d456 + d3
  Character t   =    d234567 + d47
  Character u   =    d4567 + d7 + d4567 + d7
  Character v   =    d45 + d67 + d6 + d45
  Character w   =    d45 + d67 + d6 + d45 + d67 + d6 + d45
  Character x   =    d47 + d47 + d56 + d47 + d47
  Character y   =    d4 + d45670 + d70 + d456789
  Character z   =    d47 + d467 + d457 + d47

  _uppercase letters
  Character A   =   d 7 + d 67 + d 57 + d 45 + d 35 + d 257 + d 1234567 + d 1234567 + d 7
  Character B   =   d 17 + d 1234567 + d 1234567 + d 147 + d 147 + d 1234567 + d 2356
  Character C   =   d 345 + d 23456 + d 17 + d 17 + d 17 + d 26
  Character D   =   d 17 + d 1234567 + d 1234567 + d 17 + d 17 + d 23456 + d 345
  Character E   =   d 17 + d 1234567 + d 1234567 + d 147 + d 13457 + d 17 + d 1267
  Character F   =   d 17 + d 1234567 + d 1234567 + d 147 + d 1345 + d 1 + d 12
  Character G   =   d 345 + d 23456 + d 17 + d 157 + d 1567 + d 256 + d 5
  Character H   =   d 17 + d 1234567 + d 1234567 + d 147 + d 4 + d 147 + d 1234567 +
                  d 1234567 + d 17
  Character I   =   d 17 + d 1234567 + d 1234567 + d 17
  Character J   =   d 67 + d 17 + d 1234567 + d 123456 + d 1
  Character K   =   d 17 + d 1234567 + d 1234567 + d 147 + d 35 + d 1267 + d 17
  Character L   =   d 17 + d 1234567 + d 1234567 + d 17 + d 7 + d 7 + d 67
  Character M   =   d 17 + d 1234567 + d 237 + d 34 + d 45 + d 56 + d 5 + d 4 + d 37 +
                  d 1234567 + d 1234567 + d 17
  Character N   =   d 17 + d 1234567 + d 127 + d 23 + d 34 + d 45 + d 56 + d 167 +
                  d 1234567 + d 1
  Character O   =   d 345 + d 23456 + d 17 + d 17 + d 17 + d 23456 + d 345
  Character P   =   d 17 + d 1234567 + d 1234567 + d 147 + d 14 + d 1234 + d 23
  Character Q   =   d 345 + d 23456 + d 17 + d 178 + d 179 + d 234560 + d 345
  Character R   =   d 17 + d 1234567 + d 1234567 + d 147 + d 14 + d 123456 + d 23567 + d 7
  Character S   =   d 6 + d 7 + d 7 + d 234567 + d 123456 + d 1 + d 1 + d 2
  Character T   =   d 12 + d 1 + d 17 + d 1234567 + d 1234567 + d 17 + d 1 + d 12
  Character U   =   d 1 + d 123456 + d 1234567 + d 17 + d 7 + d 17 + d 123456 + d 1
  Character V   =   d 1 + d 1234567 + d 1234567 + d 16 + d 5 + d 4 + d 13 + d 12 + d 1
  Character W   =   d 1 + d 1234567 + d 1234567 + d 16 + d 5 + d 4 + d 13 + d 1234567 +
                  d 1234567 + d 16 + d 5 + d 4 + d 13 + d 12 + d 1
  Character X   =   d 17 + d 1267 + d 12357 + d 134 + d 457 + d 13567 + d 1267 + d 17
  Character Y   =   d 1 + d 12 + d 1237 + d 134567 + d 4567 + d 137 + d 12 + d 1
  Character Z   =   d 1267 + d 1567 + d 1457 + d 1347 + d 1237 + d 1267

  _numbers
  Character 1   =   d37 + d34567 + d37
  Character 2   =   d37 + d267 + d257 + d347
  Character 3   =   d26 + d17 + d147 + d2356
  Character 4   =   d6 + d56 + d46 + d36 + d24567 + d16
  Character 5   =   d346 + d247 + d147 + d156
  Character 6   =   d456 + d37 + d247 + d156
  Character 7   =   d0 + d9 + d48 + d47 + d46 + d45 + d4
  Character 8   =   d2356 + d147 + d147 + d2356
  Character 9   =   d560 + d479 + d48 + d567
  Character 0   =   d56 + d47 + d47 + d56

  _punctuation marks
  Character .   =   d7
  Character :   =   d57
  Character ,   =   d8 + d7
  Character ;   =   d8 + d57
  Character ?   =   d13457 + d2
  Character !   =   d123457
  Character -   =   d5 + d5 + d5
  Character '   =   d2 + d1
  Character (   =   d4567 + d38 + d29 + d10
  Character )   =   d10 + d29 + d38 + d4567
  Character *   =   d35 + d4 + d147 + d23456 + d147 + d4 + d35
  Character «   =   d56 + d4567 + d47
  Character »   =   d47 + d4567 + d56
  ------------- End Raphigraphy Alphabet ---------------
  to the top

Print versions of the Raphigraphy Alphabet (new window)   [
text version of the Raphigraphy Alphabet (new window) ]

In his list, the dots to be set are listed column by column. Also all French umlauts (17 pieces) as well as numbers and punctuation marks were defined. Especially the capital letters impress with a detailed reproduction of serif-letters. Long before the invention of the computer, characters were clearly defined as dots in a grid for the first time. That is, for the first time the characters were digitized.

sample letters A f Q w Y 9 in raphigraphy to represent the grid of 10 dots in height


Bookpage of TABLEAU CHIFFRÉ DE LA FORME DES LETTRES with the letters from a to w

Excerpt from the brochure of Louis Braille from 1839:

TABLEAU CHIFFRÉ DE LA FORME DES LETTRES
a.5 6 | 4 7 | 4 7 | 3 4 5 6 | 7.
b.1 2 3 4 5 6 | 4 7 | 4 7 | 5 6.
c.5 6 | 4 7 | 4 7.
d.5 6 | 1 4 7 | 1 4 7 | 2 3 4 5 6.
e.5 6 | 4 5 7 | 4 5 7.
f.9 | 10 | 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 | 1 4 | 2.
g.5 6 | 4 7 10 | 4 7 10 | 3 4 5 6 7 8 9.
...
ç.5 6 | 4 7 10 | 4 7 9.
æ.5 6 | 4 7 | 4 7 | 3 4 5 6 | 4 5 7 | 4 5 7.
œ.5 6 | 4 7 | 4 7 | 5 6 | 4 5 7 | 4 5 7.
é.5 6 | 2 4 5 7 | 1 4 5 7.
à.5 6 | 1 4 7 | 2 4 7 | 4 5 6 | 7.
è.5 6 | 1 4 5 7 | 2 4 5 7.
ì.1 | 2 4 5 6 7 | 7.
...
A.7 | 6 7 | 5 7 | 4 5 | 3 5 | 2 5 7 | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 | 7.
B.1 7 | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 | 1 4 7 | 1 4 7 | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 | 2 3 5 6.
C.3 4 5 | 2 3 4 5 6 | 1 7 | 1 7 | 1 7 | 2 6.
D.1 7 | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 | 1 7 | 1 7 | 2 3 4 5 6 | 3 4 5.
E.1 7 | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 | 1 4 7 | 1 3 4 5 7 | 1 7 | 1 2 6 7.
F.1 7 | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 | 1 4 7 | 1 3 4 5 | 1 | 1 2.
G.3 4 5 | 2 3 4 5 6 | 1 7 | 1 5 7 | 1 5 6 7 | 2 5 6 | 5.
H.1 7 | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 | 1 4 7 | 4 | 1 4 7 | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 | 1 7.
...

Source: PROCÉDÉ POUR REPRÉSENTER PAR DES POINTS LA FORME MÊME DES LETTRES (new window)


Extract from the tactile table of raphigraphy characters (with errors)

tactile decapoint sample, extract from a letter

It were written primarily in lowercase letters, but these were not easy to write for the blind because of their height of up to 10 dots despite grid. Therefore, it did not take long to Braille's blind friend Pierre François Victor Foucault built the first apparatus - that could push the dots of the characters into the paper in columns. This apparatus (Raphigraphy Maschine) of 1841 was called Le Raphigraphe ('the Raphigraph'), which also gave the dot-writing its name Raphigraphy (also written Raphigraphie or Raphigrafie).

Photo of the 'Le Raphigraphe' with its 10 semicircular burins


In Spain, a 10-dot writing was used under the name Ballu Writing, which was written with a special dot-board (new window). Later, when the first typewriters were invented, despite the impossibility for blind people to read their typeface, they quickly replaced the complicated raphigraphy or decapoint or ballu, which thereby fell into oblivion.

Comparing the size of Raphigraphy with the Braille makes it clear why this writing was not used by the blind for long. The amount of manual paperwork was too huge and thus too slow for effective correspondence between the blind and the sighted. For the blind, this typeface was not readable without completely removing the formed letters with the fingers. With the Raphigraph the writing was written even finer, in order to save space, but this could then no longer be read by the blind.


der Begriff 'dot-writing' in Braille, Raphigraphy und Fakoo zum Vergleich

A real alternative is now the Fakoo writing with a letter height of a maximum of 3 dots. With this, the dream can come true that the blind can use a font that they can easily read and write and that is still readable and usable by the sighted. The starting point for the development of the Fakoo script was the idea of L O U I S   B R A I L L E
for his raphigraphy to improve the communication between the blind, visually impaired and sighted.


FAKOOSY small (description look fakoosy.txt)

The fact is: the Raphigraphy from 1839 was the first digital font in the world!
the raphigraphy composed already in 1839 all letters only from dots in a grid

Raphigraphy Font
Download: Raphigraphy TTF Font (new window)


Cover of the book 'Louis Braille, a touch of genius' by Michael Mellor
This book also mentions the 10-dot font.