History of Duxbury Systems, Inc. (Timeline)
- 1969-1970: The
team of Robert Gildea, Jonathan
Millen, Reid Gerhart and Joseph Sullivan (now Duxbury's president)
developed DOTSYS III, the first braille translator written in a
portable programming language. DOTSYS was developed for the Atlanta
Public Schools as a public domain program. Many of its algorithms
would later be used in the Duxbury Braille Translator.
- 1975 (July): Robert Gildea, Anne Simpson & Joseph Sullivan met at Simpson's
home in Duxbury, Massachusetts
to form a partnership, having concluded that a small but viable market existed
for braille software on minicomputers. Simpson, a professor at MIT and a noted
specialist in algorithms for geological exploration, was the company's first
president -- and owned a computer, which was rare for an individual at the
time. In the ensuing months, several times a week during the wee hours, Sullivan
would travel the 120 miles round trip from his home in Stow,
Massachusetts to work on Simpson's Data General Nova 800, bringing the
original Duxbury Braille Translator to life. Like its predecessor DOTSYS,
the original Duxbury Translator was capable of translating not only contracted
English (American usage) but also Latin, Italian, French, German and Spanish
braille in the "grade 1" form used in American English context. Early in the
following year (March 29, 1976), the business was incorporated under its present
name, to reflect the "birthplace" of the Translator. Eventually, Sullivan
and his wife Genevieve would buy out the interests of the other two partners,
so that it became in effect the family business that it is today.
- 1976 (July): Duxbury performed its first customer installation,
on a Data General Eclipse, at the Canadian National Institute for the
Blind in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
- 1976 (December): Tables were developed to allow the Duxbury
Translator to translate contracted Spanish Braille, working from a
specification written by Mr. Carl Rogers (nee Carlos Rodriguez) of
the American Foundation for the Blind, and edited by Bob Gildea.
This is believed to be the first automation of contracted Spanish,
and the first instance of a single Translator being used for two
different contracted languages. The first installation of these
tables was a few years later at the Organizacion Nacional de Ciegos
(ONCE), Madrid, Spain. Pedro Zurita of ONCE, currently Secretary
General of the World Blind Union (WBU), has provided specification
information since that time. There is also a less-contracted form of
Spanish, for which a table was later constructed in cooperation with
the Comite Internacional pro Ciegos in Mexico City. (Uncontracted
braille, which is possible with either table, is still used for most
- 1977 (April): Duxbury installed its second customer installation,
on a Digital Equipment PDP-11, at the Clovernook Center in
- 1978 (May): Tables were created for British style English Braille
when Duxbury installed Australia's first computerized braille
production center at the Royal New South Wales Institute for Deaf and
- 1979: A "microcomputer" version of the Translator was developed,
using Z-80 based North Star Horizon computers running North Star DOS,
a precursor to CP/M. Variations of this microcomputer system were
sold for a number of years, on NS DOS, CP/M, MP/M, and even the Oasis
operating system. (Around this time, the first of several tables to
translate Russian braille [Cyrillic] were developed -- which was
straightforward, as is true of most grade 1 [uncontracted] codes.
Classical Greek and other grade 1 transcription codes have been
routinely set up since then, usually for special situations.)
- 1981: Working with the South Africa Blind Workers Organization
(SABWO), Ms. Lettie van Tonder, initially assisted by Joe Sullivan,
begins work on Duxbury Translator tables for contracted Afrikaans and
several uncontracted African languages. Eventually Ms. van Tonder's
work will be taken up by Anton Zeelie of SABWO, and further work in
the same area will be carried out by Christo de Klerk and Antonnette
Botha at Pionier School (now the Institute for the Blind).
- 1982: Under the sponsorship of the National Federation of the
Blind (NFB), a microcomputer Translator was installed in Lusaka,
- 1982: Tables for contracted Arabic Braille, thought to be the
first such anywhere, were developed and installed with the Translator
at the Middle East Committee for the Welfare of the Blind in Riyadh,
- 1985: The first MS-DOS version of the Translator was released.
- 1985: With the sponsorship of the Canadian National Institute for
the Blind (CNIB), tables were developed for the Nemeth Braille Code
for Mathematics and Science Notation.
- 1986-88: Contracted French braille tables were developed for the
Duxbury Translator, under the sponsorship of the Association Valentin
Haüy (AVH) in Paris, France, and with Mr. Michel Jacquin, Vice
President of AVH, providing technical collaboration. The
installation at AVH itself took place in April, 1988.
- 1987: Under the sponsorship of the Royal Commonwealth Society for
the Blind (Sight Savers), a Duxbury Braille Translator was installed
in Nairobi, Kenya. Tables for a new grade 1 "African Braille Code"
were developed to serve several peoples in Kenya and elsewhere in
East Africa. Later, for the Kiswahili, these were supplanted by
tables for traditional contracted Swahili (February 1988).
- 1988: The American English Tables were augmented to include
the new Computer Braille Code (CBC).
- 1989: The Macintosh version of the Duxbury Braille Translator was
released. The MS-DOS version was updated to include PIMBRI, a
program that analyzes formatted ("page-image") ASCII text files to
produce proper braille formatting without typing in codes.
- 1990: Edgar was added to Duxbury's product line. Edgar is a
dots-on-screen editor with six-key input for braille transcribers.
- 1991: The "Duxbury Printing Utility" was added to the
Translator and Edgar, allowing for the printing of simulated braille,
with optional interline print, on certain laser and dot-matrix
printers. Duxbury also released its first Windows products, the
Braille Board and Braille Font. These products, and the Mac version,
are designed to help in the production of architectural signs meeting
the requirements of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).
- 1992: DUXWP was added to Duxbury's product line, and included as
part of the DOS version of the Translator. DUXWP provides a
comprehensive bridge from WordPerfect files, allowing WP users to
produce braille output through a menu, without having to learn
- 1994: With the sponsorship and technical cooperation of the Central
Library for the Blind, Israel, tables for Hebrew Braille (working from
WordPerfect Hebrew files) were developed and installed there.
- 1994: In cooperation with the National Federation of Blind Citizens
of Australia, tables for Viet Namese braille were developed.
- 1995: The Windows version of the Duxbury Braille Translator was
released. The DOS version was updated to include a pull down menu
program, a simplified manual, on-line help screens, six-key braille
editing, grade 2 French and Spanish tables, styles, a spell checker
and other features.
- 1998: Duxbury moves to new expanded facilities in
- 1999: (Aug) Duxbury officially buys the assets and liabilities of Braille
Planet, Madison WI, marking the beginning of beautiful new collaborative development
for the world of braille.
- 2004: Release of version 10.5 of DBT Win. This version contains localizations
for 8 languages as well as translation software for over 60 languages. DBT Win has come a long way.
- 2011: Release of version 11.1 of DBT Win. This version contains
translation software for over 130 languages. DBT Win is a truly international product.
- 2012: Release of version 11.1 SR3. There is a braille-to-print translator for almost every print-to-braille translator.
- present: Duxbury DBT is under constant revision. Here is
the current status of Duxbury DBT.