Monday, 19 March 2012

Telephone tweets and Facebook telegraph

At the end of last year I blogged about Little Printer, a miniature printer that I felt owed much to the tickertape machines of the early 20th Century and which can run off strips containing news items, lists, addresses and tweets.  At the time I wondered to myself why someone had not taken the idea a step further, or a step backwards rather, and rigged up a proper piece of vintage kit to work with the likes of Twitter.  It surely wasn't beyond the wit of the technically-minded vintagista - no doubt we would see something before too long, I thought.

Well, I was right.  Doubly so, as it happens.  Firstly - and just yesterday - I came across the Tweephone, the product of young minds from the Ukraine who have come up with the wizard idea of converting an old rotary-dial telephone to be able to send tweets over the Internet.  Even today telephone keypads still have corresponding letters assigned to each number - now only used for text-messaging (so at least the concept should be familiar) and those funny aide-memoires more popular in the United States, "'phone 1-800 CONTRIVED" - so the principle is exactly the same.  Digital meets analogue!  At the moment merely a one-off design study, but with enough interest - who knows?  Even the oldest rotary-dialler could send tweets!  (I should mention at this point that I don't tweet and to be honest find the whole thing a bit silly, but if you're going to do it best do it properly - and tweeting from an old GPO 200 series would seem about right!).

The unseen chap in this next clip has gone one better, though, and produced almost exactly what I was thinking of when first I saw the Little Printer - an actual tickertape machine wired up to tap out tweets!

The Twittertape Machine is also in the prototype stage but simply uses an old tickertape machine rigged up to the Internet and which will tap out your tweets in much the same way as it would have spewed out important stock movements a century ago.  The Mark II will apparently go one better - wi-fi and Farcebook-compatible (again, if that's your sort of thing - it isn't mine, I don't even have an account - then again this seems like the proper way to go about it: if I got my hands on one even I would reconsider my stance on social networking!).

Nevertheless, these vintage takes on modern communication are most welcome and a wonderful way to indulge in 21st Century correspondence while adding a decidedly 20th Century flavour.  As I said with the Little Printer it even adds more of a personal and tangible touch to messaging.  I also happen to love the way it makes a mockery of Twitter's USPs - speed and compactness.  But as I've said before, anything that gives these old devices a new lease of life is OK in my book and I hope success attends both enterprises as I would really like to see more of the two in the future.


  1. That wonderful poster could almost convince me to open a twitter account!

  2. The Twittertape machine is absolutely brilliant! I haven't quite grasp the point of Twitter, yet, nor may I ever, but I'd likely read anything that comes out of that beautiful machine!

  3. Hello Bruce:
    Well, we have never tweeted to date, but one of these retro devices may well convince us otherwise. As you say, all the technology of the C21 with the style of yesteryear. perfect!

  4. Very nice post. Although tempting to do something similar and get a twitter account I think I'll stick with email or snail mail using my typewriter.

  5. Fabulous! I will show my husband this idea, he will love it!


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