USB typewriter — really?

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Yep. Meet the USB Typewriter. You might think those typewriters are obsolete or antique, but seeing these USB typewriters forces one to remember: we will not pass down those iPhones to future generations. A little steampunk goes a long way.

Of all the hacks I’ve seen lately, this one takes the bag. While I will be the last to say that “life hacks” are useless, this one is a possibly both the oddest and most appealing. While you can buy one pre-made, you can also convert your own. Here’s how it works:

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So, apart from applying a ‘spacebar’ key detector and a ‘shift’ key detector, the rest of the letters and number can be harvested from a ‘keypress’ detertor pad on the underbelly of the typewriter which monitor key swings, but from below. Add a control panel on the side and you’re USB-ready.

There is a simplified home conversion kit, as well as more DIY version that requires a bit of soldering.

Some of the videos are admittedly cheesy (the background music … ouch), but this idea is actually pretty solid. It appeals to me on a number of levels, but none more than the idea that is developed in the second video. The idea that one day the batteries will be gone and our electronic technology will be utterly useless; what’s more, they mention how today’s high technology will not last, meaning, today’s technology is incapable of becoming an antique because so much support goes into it and once batteries are not widely available, they’re useless (beyond a paperweight, assuming we have paper).

Retro-hacks like these have been featured in a number of venues, but the interviews on NPR are probably the coolest.

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About Nicholas

Associate Professor of Sociology, Environmental Studies, and Science and Technology Studies at Penn State, Nicholas mainly writes about understanding the scientific study of states and, thus, it is namely about state theory. Given his training in sociology and STS, he takes a decidedly STS-oriented approach to state theory and issues of governance.

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