Can you help me to find an Electric Typewriter with Memory?
March 23, 2014 10:22 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a typewriter that will store what I'm writing so that I can transfer it to a computer. I am trying to manage my internet addiction and want a machine that will allow me to write without letting me do the internet thing. Can you help?
posted by overglow to Technology (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
An old word processor machine is what your describing. (ebay link)
Or, you could buy an inexpensive laptop and trash it's internal wifi antenna.
Is this the idea?
posted by artdrectr at 10:37 PM on March 23, 2014

I used to have an AlphaSmart Neo for this purpose & loved it. You can see one at the ebay link artdrectr posted.
posted by not that girl at 10:55 PM on March 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

Amstrad word processor used 3 1/2" floppy discs. And there are plenty of floppy disc readers that have USB connections that will let you read the data on the drive like any other drive.
posted by CollectiveMind at 11:02 PM on March 23, 2014

Thanks for the responses, I realize I want to have a typewriter because I want the writing on paper while also saving it to memory so that I can transfer it to a computer after editing on paper.
I'm confused about how to tell the difference between word processing typewriters that save writing in a way that it can be transferred to a computer and ones that don't.
posted by overglow at 11:22 PM on March 23, 2014

Other popular makes of word processing typewriters were Canon, Smith-Corona, Brother, Sharp.

But as with other obsolete technology, you're going to run into compatibility problems. My Canon Starwriter had a floppy drive, but it wrote to some proprietary format for backup only, and was not readable on a PC. I think later models were DOS-compatible, but you'll have check any model you get, as it did vary. Finding documentation could be difficult.

Even if you get one with a working drive, printing might be a challenge, as ribbons for these things might be hard or impossible to find. Some had thermal printers, but you'd need thermal paper, and that was pretty awful. If they can print to an external printer, it's probably via some old-style connector, and might not work with a modern printer.

They also had little dot-matrix screens, so you could only see a couple of lines at a time. And keyboard shortcuts you use now might not work.

I appreciated these little machines in the late 80s, because they were relatively inexpensive and good enough for what I wanted at the time, but I can't imagine trying to do much on one now. On the up side, it would probably be a cheap experiment for you, but the frustration level might make it not worth it.

As an alternative, does your router have a scheduler so you can stay offline while you work?
posted by sageleaf at 12:41 AM on March 24, 2014

Get an old lappy, can be ten years old, who cares. Windoze 98? Great. As long as it boots and has a word processor that you like, you're golden.

And if you want it on paper, hey, that's why god made printers.

I had a perfect machine for what you're looking to do, did not have an internet connection, you should be able to buy it for fifty bucks.

I dunno, maybe you like the clackety-clack of a typewriter. But I'm so spoiled by puters I'd never go back.

I hope you find what you're looking for.
posted by dancestoblue at 12:45 AM on March 24, 2014

I'm confused about how to tell the difference between word processing typewriters that save writing in a way that it can be transferred to a computer and ones that don't.

Practically speaking, the way to tell them apart is that the ones which don't work the way you want are the ones which exist, and the ones which do work the way you want are the ones which don't exist. Oh, sure, you could get into the retrocomputing challenge of reverse engineering the formatting codes of a word processing typewriter you got off ebay -- I've done that here, even. But you'd have to want to play with the technology for the technology's sake for that to make sense. I'm relatively confident that there is no word-processing typewriter you could buy today from which you could easily import text into a modern computer. Certainly nothing you could buy new, except maybe new old stock on ebay.

Honestly, your best bet here is to find a typewriter you like, use that to do your writing on paper, and then scan and OCR the final typed paper in order to get it onto the computer. OCR ought to work pretty well if you can find a typewriter with a nice clean OCR-able typeface.

Alternately, give up on paper, and use an AlphaSmart or boot your computer into an OS with no distractions.
posted by hades at 1:25 AM on March 24, 2014 [7 favorites]

I think Hades' solution is the most hassle-free. I have a ScanSnap that I use to digitize bills and receipts and it's really easy and straightforward to use.

So yeah: buy a good old fashioned typewriter and a little scanner, and enjoy the side effect of neatly digitized bills and receipts.
posted by nerdfish at 1:29 AM on March 24, 2014

I often type everything first on a manual typewriter, then make a few quick edits and transcribe it into the digital realm by typing it again. I find this a quite functional way to do first drafts. But I'm a pretty fast typist.
posted by philip-random at 1:53 AM on March 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

We have a second desktop computer at home that is theoretically for the teen to do homework on without having internet (porn) in her bedroom. It does not have internet access. It does, however, have all the writing software needed to do writing and editing in a form that can easily be carried to the main computer via stick drive. Bonus for her when she has friends over is that it can play DVD movies, but those are not kept in her room.

Mostly, homework still requires internet access and so she mostly just does the homework in the main part of the house on the main computer.
posted by BearClaw6 at 9:16 AM on March 24, 2014

As BearClaw6 says, just use a computer but don't have internet service available to it. You will have the full benefits of word processing, printer access and, since you don't need much speed or capacity, a range of really inexpensive new or even used systems. Later, if you choose to return to the internet you already have the computer.
posted by uncaken at 9:29 AM on March 24, 2014

we have an alphasmart dana. Works great. You can back up to the computer easily, or put things on an SD card.
posted by lemniskate at 9:04 PM on March 24, 2014

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