Linux Teletype Machine

Earlier this month I claimed that the nifty Material Shell GNOME Extension would (probably) be the coolest thing you see this month.

Well, I was wrong.

THIS is the coolest thing you’ll see this month.

Retro Teletype Linux Terminal

Let’s pretend for a moment — or the entire day, up to you — that you’re a time-travelling Linux enthusiast planning a visit to mainland Europe in the 1930s.

Let’s pretend you’re a time-travelling Linux enthusiast planning a visit the 1930s and need an era-appropriate way to use Ubuntu…

While there you want to use an era-appropriate way to access your Ubuntu machine to avoid raising eyebrows from curious time-natives (and the inter-dimensional paradox hunters hot on your tail).

Is it possible?

Sure is! Just locate your nearest exchange network, “borrow” a 60lb Teletype machine capable of sending and receiving messages, and hook it up to your Ubuntu machine using the rudimentary serial interface, some Arduino middleware, and a USB cable.

Now you’re all set!

It will let you issue commands on your Linux PC using an old-skool typewriter-style machine, and get the output typed back, on paper, in-front you!

Aka the coolest, most steampunk way to remotely access Ubuntu, period.

And you can see it in action in the video below, which sees retro-tech tinkerer Mattis Lind log on to his Ubuntu Linux laptop using a Lorenz Lo15 teletype machine — and get the command out put typed back.

Pretty darn cool, isn’t it?

The Lorzenz Lo15 is a 1930s teleprinter (also known teletype, teletypewriter, and TTY [TeleTYpe], the the latter being how the Unix TTY available in Linux distros got its name).

These machines supported an early form of electronic communication that allowed typed messages to be sent and received over a network using Baudot, an early precursor to ASCII (which is the current character encoding standard for electronic communication).

The machine features an early serial interface that, with the right know-how, can be mapped to USB (Lind explains more in a follow-up tweet), something a troupe of talented tech bods have taken advantage of over the years.

The effort involved might not justify the means — there’s little practical application for this. Aside from the cabled connection these machines are limited to a certain number of characters per minute, model dependant, and a limited character set.

I’d hate to run ls on my music folder from one of these (but I’d love to see the output from a system info tool like neofetch on one these).

But as a pure piece of “what if”, it’s terrific!

Thanks François

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