Dear Rita [Livingston] – I am so pleased that you are interested in the abacus history. The one with the wooden beads is the original prototype by Cranmer. I am also enclosing some other items that may catch a student’s fancy. Hope all is well. It was good to see you when I was in Austin. I’ll send my new address in a month or two. Be well and enjoy all you do, love, Joan.
This type of abacus was designed by Terence V. (Tim) Cranmer (1925-2001) of the Kentucky Division of Rehabilitation Services for the Blind in early 1962, and soon placed on the market by the American Printing House for the Blind. It is still manufactured today. Cranmer was blind from childhood. He made and sold plastic jewelry in his early years, worked briefly at Kentucky Industries for the Blind, and then spent 10 years as a piano technician. In 1952, he began working for the Kentucky Division of Rehabilitation Services for the Blind, rising through the ranks. He was an active member of the National Federation of the Blind, and made several inventions.