Computer-controlled typewriter output (with impact, not typewriter font)
December 19, 2013 3:45 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to use my computer to generate output that looks like it was typewritten, not like it's a photocopy of something typewritten, i.e., with some form of mechanical impact printing. What's the cheapest way to do this?

I know about the zillion typewriter fonts out there, but I want the impressions in the page from impact printing (and something that looks typewritten -- dot matrix need not apply.)

So how can I do this most cheaply? Old school typewriter-like printer? Daisywheel printer? Selectric with custom cable?
posted by Zed to Technology (6 answers total)
Here's one on eBay.
posted by popcassady at 3:56 PM on December 19, 2013

I was going to suggest a daisywheel printer, but you've already thought of that. I imagine you might have some compatibility issues with drivers, but I'm pretty sure USB–LPT cables exist. You would also need to be printing only basic text files.
posted by stopgap at 3:59 PM on December 19, 2013

A while back I wanted to send a friend an actual type-written letter. My task was made easy since (at the time) I actually had a manual typewriter. But typing was a big problem, as I kept making mistakes. So, I typed up the Greeting and the Closing, and then composed the body in Courier on my computer, practicing with the printing until I got the body to fit perfectly in between what I'd typed. Finally, I printed the body onto the page I'd partially typed. My friend said, "Wow, an actual typed letter" possibly never perceiving the shortcut.
posted by Rash at 4:06 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Automatypewriter is a typewriter that can type by itself... It can also detect what’s being typed on it. It can be used to send text to and/or receive text from a computer via USB. It was designed as a platform for playing interactive fiction games, in particular to play custom software being developed for it by Jim Munroe.

I have no idea what it costs, but there are schematics available if you are handy with a soldering iron and can price out parts at DigiKey, etc.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:12 PM on December 19, 2013

Response by poster: there are schematics available if you are handy with a soldering iron

Sadly, as a hardware hacker, I make a pretty good coder.
posted by Zed at 4:25 PM on December 19, 2013

Hah! By utter coincidence, I spent the morning with the creator of the Automatypewriter.

If you can find a thrifted IBM Wheelwriter, they will work. They are as heavy as tanks, take a few seconds to print a line, and are utterly deafening. I had a similar idea to print things a few years back, picked up a Wheelwriter, and half a page in the attraction had definitely faded.
posted by scruss at 8:27 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

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