Computers & Mobile
How-To: Connect a Serial Console to Your Mac

I don’t know about you, but there’s something that delights me about using old and new technology together. Things like USB typewriters, twittering Teddy Ruxpins, and PayPal-accepting vending machines just really make my day. This morning, I was gleeful to discover that Justin Ouellette hooked up an old VT220 serial console to his Mac running OS X Lion. On the hardware side, he used a USB to serial adapter, a null modem and a DB25 gender changer. After making a simple change under the hood in OS X, he was able to use the glowing yellow monitor to log into the command-line interface of his machine. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m making my way over to eBay to find my own VT220 terminal. What better way to play Zork, am I right? [via Adafruit]

18 thoughts on “How-To: Connect a Serial Console to Your Mac

  1. He’s half way there. The library system in Queens used them for a while. Now they use PCs and have no idea what they are doing. The late Blockbuster video used them. Last time I checked the College of Optometry of the State of New York was a very big investor in the system.

    However mainframes are still with us, they are IBM S/390 systems and handle our banking. He’s thinking of the DEC invasion, and those are also involved, just on the hobbyist level. But for connecting it to an unsuspecting Mac system, now that’s golden.

  2. Awesome! I’ve got a Lear Sieger ADM3A (circa 1977) terminal that I might try this with. Sadly, I need a bit of hardware debugging to get it to work (it worked the pervious time I turned it on, I’ve had this thing connected to a computer before, and have used it for Google Talk. I tried to replicate it more recently (to take photos and document it) but it didn’t work :(.

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Matt Richardson is a San Francisco-based creative technologist and Contributing Editor at MAKE. He’s the co-author of Getting Started with Raspberry Pi and the author of Getting Started with BeagleBone.

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