Keaton Music Typewriter

Keaton Music Typewriter

Usage conditions apply
As typewriters developed during the 20th century, a class of music typewriters began to emerge. This is a Keaton Music Typewriter that was invented by Robert H. Keaton of San Francisco, California. Keaton had two patents that covered his music typewriter, the first was given patent number 2,047,690 on July 14, 1936 and related to a 14 key music typewriter, and the second was given number 2,631,712 on March 17, 1953 and covered a 33 key music typewriter. The typewriter’s board held sheet music in place while a semicircle ring of keys containing notes and musical notation typebars could be maneuvered above the sheet music to create musical compositions.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Other Terms
typewriter; Manual
Keaton Music Typewriter Company
overall -case: 6 1/2 in x 22 1/2 in x 18 in; 16.51 cm x 57.15 cm x 45.72 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Urban Thielmann
See more items in
Work and Industry: Mechanisms
Computers & Business Machines
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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I lived next door to Bob Keaton from 1962 until 1973 at 93 Carmel in San Francisco. Bob died in 1973 and his son ask me if I would like to buy Bob's house at 87 Carmel. I immediately sold my house and bought Mr. Keatons at 87 Carmel. I was very close to Bob and did many favors as he was in his 90s at the time. He had the house built to his specifications in 1908 (post Victorian Era) so I was the second owner of the house. His daughter Doris Smallian (married name) lived a few doors up the street on Carmel. Carmel is in the lower Twin Peaks area. I have photos of the house and it has not changed except for the paint.
According to a search, Mr. Keaton died in 1953. I haven't been able to verify this. I have looked for him through because my mother's maiden name is Keaton and I want to find out if there is any relationship with my relatives from Georgia and Florida but no luck, yet.
In the 1960s, I occasionally worked as copyist for a composer at the University of Georgia, reproducing in a legible hand his scores and parts. In 1971, I was traveling the US as a singer-songwriter, and at one point I needed to find an additional source of income. Passing near Boulder, CO, I called the music department at the University of Colorado, and spoke with a gentleman whom I asked about possible opportunities for copying music. He laughed heartily and told me that he had no need of my services because he had invented the music typewriter! I didn't recall his name afterwards. Just today (3/19/19), via Google, I learned that the inventor was Robert H. Keaton, of San Francisco, CA. I haven't been able to find out if this was the gentleman I spoke with, and if he was at the U of CO in 1971. I'd be grateful if you could enlighten me on this matter.
"Mr. Keaton lived across the street from me when I was growing up in San Francisco. His workshop was located in his garage that often had the garage door open, There was also a regular door that accessed the garage from the sidewalk.I would often stop and visit Mr. Keaton as he worked in his garage working on one invention or another. He often had several projects going at once and I never had any idea what anything was other than he was an "inventor " as my parents described him to me.A very kind. creative person who freely shared his time with a curious kid."

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