If you’re a computer user of a — cough, cough — certain age, you might think that the IBM Model M is the only real keyboard and everything else is a poor imitation (and you would, of course, be right). If you’re of an even hoarier vintage, though, you may still wax nostalgic for your trusty old Underwood. Well, wax no more! The USB Typewriter is here, and it will take your century-old doorstop and turn it into a keyboard for one of those newfangled computers faster than you can say Jack Robinson!
Available as a $150 DIY kit or pre-built into a vintage typewriter ($400 and up), the USB typewriter may just be the ultimate in steampunk tech, as well as the perfect Father’s Day gift for Grandpa. It works by adding a set of sensors below the keys, each of which delivers a pulse when the key is pressed. It’s compatible with any computer that can use a standard USB keyboard, and can still function as a typewriter after being modded. As the developers put it:
The USBTypewriterâ„¢ is a new and groundbreaking innovation in the field of obsolescence. Lovers of the look, feel, and quality of old fashioned manual typewriters can now use them as keyboards for any USB-capable computer, such as a PC, Mac, or even iPad! The modification is easy to install, it involves no messy wiring, and does not change the outward appearance of the typewriter (except for the usb adapter itself, which is mounted in the rear of the machine). So the end result is a retro-style USB keyboard that not only looks great, but feels great to use.
The developers plan to make the schematics and software behind the setup available for free under a Creative Commons license, so you can build the entire thing from scratch if you’re so inclined. Maybe Grandpa will even help you if you ask nicely.