Chapter 3. Braille and Binary Codes

Samuel Morse wasn’t the first person to successfully translate the letters of written language to an interpretable code. Nor was he the first person to be remembered more as the name of his code than as himself. That honor must go to a blind French teenager born some 18 years after Samuel Morse but who made his mark much more precociously. Little is known of his life, but what is known makes a compelling story.

Louis Braille was born in 1809 in Coupvray, France, just 25 miles east of Paris. His father was a harness maker. At the age of three—an age when young boys shouldn’t be playing in their fathers’ workshops—he accidentally stuck a pointed tool in his eye. The wound became infected, and the infection spread ...

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