You can see in the closeup that the bar at the top is ruled. There is a strip with teeth below so the device can be positioned in fixed increments. Clearly a device for marking letters either with ink, or for embossing.
"It's clearly not QWERTY. But it has 81 characters, both upper and lowercase letters and the digits 1-9 (where is 0?- uppercase O?). It's a Norwegian/Danish keyboard as it includes the letters æ, ø and å (ÆØÅ). You clearly see that the system is that the less used uppercase letters are placed to the left and right, leaving the more frequently used lowercase letters in the middle. It would interesting to study the position of the lowercase letters relative to their overall frequency in the Norwegian language, but I'll leave that to others :-)"
In the enlarged image, you can see characters in the grid so it appears that the stylus is used to select a letter, perhaps moving around a die for embossing. This is similar to the earliest typewriter prototypes and not that different from Dymo embossed label makers. Given the small size of the array, which would result in an even smaller size of the die being moved around by the stylus, it would appear to be for making really small print. Perhaps it's for writing up contracts? :-) Or maybe for the fine print in currency or coins
If this is that old, is it possibly a manual punch for something like loom control cards? They were functionally similar to the Hollerith punch card. That might be the link to 'modern' computers that used punch cards.
As we unveil EE Times’ 2015 Silicon 60 list, journalist & Silicon 60 researcher Peter Clarke hosts a conversation on startups in the electronics industry. Panelists Dan Armbrust (investment firm Silicon Catalyst), Andrew Kau (venture capital firm Walden International), and Stan Boland (successful serial entrepreneur, former CEO of Neul, Icera) join in the live debate.