1979: Project started
Index Braille started as a university project to develop a braille type writer with copy function in 1979. The inspiration to develop braille printers came Bjorn Lofstedt's mother who became blind at the age of 32. Supported by Swedish Handicap organization, the project was successful. It was then 'Polar Print Production' was founded by Bjorn Lofstedt and Torvald Lundqvist in 1982. The first embossers were produced in the garage.
1984: First embossers produced
The first embossers were made in the garage of Bjorn Lofstedt in 1984 under the name of 'Index computer Braille printer', but they were then called Index 3.7 after the firmware version. The production volume was only a handful in the first year.
1985: Real production site and international sales
In 1985 Polar Print Production moved into current location in Gammelstad, a suburb outside of Luleå. A period of intense development, increased production volume, and establishment on international market took place. In order to finance the embosser development, the company started to distribute equipment for the blind in Sweden.
Late 80s: Index Braille, Index finger the eye of the blind
In the late 80s, the company was divided into two parts: Index Braille for printers, and Polar Print for distribution of equipment for the blind. This resulted in rapid higher sales volume and improved product quality. Our volume model, Basic Blue Bar
, became one of the most favourite braille printers. However, braille printers still embossed single-sided printouts, required significant support and professional installation, and were quite expensive.
1992: Everest-D born in 1992
The Everest-D V1 was the first printer produced based on modern construction principles, the first double-sided small printer, the first with modern speech guided user interface. The 'Everest' name represents something standing up - the first standing printer ever made and this product will be here forever.
1995: Basic-D/S V2 and Everest-D V2 born
The same electronic principles and mechanical designs of both Basic and Everest are used in these models. When Everest-D was introduced, it was believed that continuous tractor-feed paper was coming to an end, and that cut-sheet paper was the future. However, this turned out to be incorrect as fanfold paper continued to be the most popular paper format. It was then that Basic-D was developed, based on an optimized Everest design principles.
1998: 4X4 PRO for booklet format
Using the same hardware except a slight different embossing head made it possible to print braille vertically. The 4X4 PRO was the first braille printer with the ability to print in booklet (newspaper) fomat.
2002: Basic-D V3
2003: Everest-D V3
Based on the same electronic mainboard as Basic-D V3.
2003: Everest-D V3
- USB port included
- IP network port included
- Bi-directional parallel port
- The same electronic mainboard used for both Basic-D and Everest-D
- Paperless office, all documents scanned and included in the business system
2004: 4X4 PRO V3
This version was based on the same electronic hardware as Basic-D V3 and Everest-D V3.
2005: 4Waves PRO V3 first high-speed printer
The 4Waves PRO was based on the printing mechanism of 4 Basic-D V3. Each printout produces 4 braille pages. The next printout produces another 4 braille pages, etc, so in total it printed out 16 pages in one batch. The 4Waves was the first high-speed braille embosser with a price below 35,000 USD. the service of 4Waves PRO was relatively easy, as each module can be easily removed from the unit for maintenance.
2011: Introduction of Basic-D, Everest-D and BrailleBox V4
The V4 version was a giant technology step. Basically all electronic and mechanical hardwares were redesigned, and a high level of Linux computer was embedded. The 4X4 PRO booklet printing was included in the standard Everest-D V4. The SolidWorks 3D was used for mechanical construction. The whole Index team was included when defining improvement possibilities for the V4 project. 97% of over 100 suggestions was implemented in the V4 design. The design principle of BrailleBox started as a Master thesis of 2 students at Luleå University of Technology. Based on HP sheet feeder, BrailleBox V4 is Index master piece. In addition to the unique design principle, it included glass and light as design objects, and unique black and white colour as the colour scheme. The corporate brand identity has been implemented in all Index printers, acoustic hoods, and marketing materials.
2012: ATC Braille & Print
A version of Everest-D V4 that included an HP inkjet was developed by Index in collaboration with ATC American Thermoform. The product was intented to be sold by ATC; however, it was sold only for a short period of time mainly in the US market.
2014: Index-direct-Braille (idB) introduced
For the first time ever it is possible to print braille directly from a Word or PDF file without using translation or formatting by a separate program. IdB uses Liblouis text-to-braille translation and supports over 140 languages. It is free of charge and automatically included in the Index Braille printer driver.
2016: V5 Basic-D, Everest-D, BrailleBox V5
The V5 platform represents the technology development from 2011 to 2016. The most important improvements include:
- Wi-Fi network
- Increased speed
- Horizontal and vertical printing on Basic-D and Everest-D
- Web app supporting mobile printing including mobile phones
- USB host port, enabling printing from USB memory stick
- Control panel with speaker, LED, silicon key and connection to sensors etc.
- Improved multilingual user interface powered by Acapela synthetic speech
- Remote support. Index support team can monitor and repair firmware all over the world remotely as long as the V5 printer is connected to a network with internet access
Index has collaborated with another company as the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) of braille printers using Index technology platform.
2017: FanFold-V5 introduced