typewriter_printer.jpg

Spotted in the MAKE Flickr pool:

Flickr user numist had a typerwriter that he wasn’t using anymore, so he converted it into a teleprinter. What’s that? It turns out that teleprinters are basically a printer and a keyboard put together in a single device, but not directly connected. Instead, both are connected to a remote computer using a serial connection. When you type on the keyboard, it gets interpreted by the computer, which then prints a response on the printer. They probably don’t make much sense anymore, but before electronic displays were readily available, these were one of the main ways of programming mainframe computers.

To make his version, numist took an old electronic typewriter, and added some electronics between the keyboard and printer board. He used an Arduino microcontroller to read in each key press and relay it back over a serial port to his PC. When it receives characters back from the PC, the microcontroller emulates the keyboard to feed them into the original typewriter circuitry, causing the typewriter to print. Now, I’m not entirely sure what one could do with such a modernized typewriter, but I’ll bet there are lots of potential projects there. Got any ideas?