Thursday, 27 June 2013

The USB typewriter: would you?


Well, would you?


Old typewriters are beautiful things. And recycling beautiful old things is a beautiful thing. And this Smith Corona Sterling isn't the only old-school machine that Pennsylvanian techy inventor, Jack Zylkin, has transformed into a fully-functioning USB keyboard for any PC, Mac or iPad.

Look, here's another one he's pimped.


They go for around £400-700, depending on the vintage of the typewriter. "People love typewriters," Zylkin says in his Etsy shop profile, "and lots of people have them on their mantle or in their attic. But there is just no place for them on a modern computer desk. So, with the USB Typewriter project I am trying to rescue typewriters from garages and attics and put them to use again." He also sells DIY kits at $74 (around £48) so you can convert your own old typewriter at home.

The conversion is all about attention to detail: Zylkin has devised ways to incorporate non-standard keys such as F1-F12, and the Esc and Ctrl keys. On request, he'll also fix the typewriter's carriage return key (post-typewriter generation: that's the big key that goes "ping" in the office scenes in Mad Men, and moves you onto the next line on the paper) to work as a modern keyboard's enter key. The old machines will also work computer-less, for an extra vintage sheen, and can be used as iPod docks too.

It's a totally brilliant idea. Just like those old-fashioned telephone receivers you can get to plug into your mobile. But the only people who used those were fashion show front-rowers and early east London adopters – and as soon as the fad lost its new sheen, landfill was surely hit with a heavy load of bakelite and moulded plastic. So are these keyboards different? Would you use one?

Find the USB Typewriter shop on Etsy.

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