Computers

Twittertape Machine brings antiquated charm to social networking

Twittertape Machine brings ant...
The Twittertape Machine prototype from Adam Vaughan connects to his Twitter account via Ethernet, checks for updates twice every minute, and prints out a hard copy of any new Tweets without the need for printer ink
The Twittertape Machine prototype from Adam Vaughan connects to his Twitter account via Ethernet, checks for updates twice every minute, and prints out a hard copy of any new Tweets without the need for printer ink
View 10 Images
The Twittertape Machine features a network-enabled Arduino-style microcontroller running custom code in the base
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The Twittertape Machine features a network-enabled Arduino-style microcontroller running custom code in the base
Adam Vaughan told us that the Twittertape Machine may never have been made were it not for determination spawned by a lukewarm reception to the idea from friends
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Adam Vaughan told us that the Twittertape Machine may never have been made were it not for determination spawned by a lukewarm reception to the idea from friends
Coming together nicely, the Twittertape Machine begins to take shape
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Coming together nicely, the Twittertape Machine begins to take shape
Assembling the proof of concept prototype
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Assembling the proof of concept prototype
The proof of concept, completely stand-alone prototype is powered by two AC adapters, but this will be reduced to one in any future production model
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The proof of concept, completely stand-alone prototype is powered by two AC adapters, but this will be reduced to one in any future production model
The Twittertape Machine prototype from Adam Vaughan connects to his Twitter account via Ethernet, checks for updates twice every minute, and prints out a hard copy of any new Tweets without the need for printer ink
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The Twittertape Machine prototype from Adam Vaughan connects to his Twitter account via Ethernet, checks for updates twice every minute, and prints out a hard copy of any new Tweets without the need for printer ink
New Tweets are printed out onto a roll of cut-down thermal till receipt paper using a tiny thermal printer hidden in the base
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New Tweets are printed out onto a roll of cut-down thermal till receipt paper using a tiny thermal printer hidden in the base
Adam Vaughan used some old brass clock parts found online and spent many late evenings working with a rotary tool to shape the various components
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Adam Vaughan used some old brass clock parts found online and spent many late evenings working with a rotary tool to shape the various components
Adam Vaughan says that the design evolved during production into something he feels proud to display on his desk
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Adam Vaughan says that the design evolved during production into something he feels proud to display on his desk
The Twittertape Machine has been programmed to check Vaughan's Twitter account every 30 seconds for new Tweets, and prints out any new messages onto cut-down thermal till receipt paper using a tiny thermal printer
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The Twittertape Machine has been programmed to check Vaughan's Twitter account every 30 seconds for new Tweets, and prints out any new messages onto cut-down thermal till receipt paper using a tiny thermal printer
View gallery - 10 images

The stock ticker was invented around 150 years ago and was still in use as recently as the late 1960s, when computers and television caused its obsolescence. It kept traders up to speed on the latest prices in readable text on a thin strip of paper and, by necessity, messages were very short. These days, many of us receive short news updates via Twitter on a computer or smartphone screen. Adam Vaughan's Twittertape Machine elegantly brings those two worlds together in a device that connects to his Twitter account via Ethernet, checks for updates twice every minute, and prints out a hard copy of any new Tweets without the need for printer ink.

Vaughan told us that the idea for the Twittertape Machine was born of a desire to have the kind of old stock ticker seen in movies sitting on his desk. After a lukewarm reception to his pitch from friends, he decided to make his dream a reality. Rather than sacrifice a rare original (like the Edison Universal Stock Ticker used for Ames Bielenberg's Spring Break project), he opted to build his own replica version from some old brass clock movements, a wooden plinth and a glass dome found online.

The proof of concept, completely stand-alone prototype is powered by two AC adapters, but this will be reduced to one in any future production model
The proof of concept, completely stand-alone prototype is powered by two AC adapters, but this will be reduced to one in any future production model

"The design of the machine was my own and really evolved during the build as I was guided by the materials I had available to me and my own ability (or sometimes lack thereof) to work with them," said Vaughan. "I'm not a model builder and have never done anything like this before so it really did take me some time before I had something I felt happy enough to show other people. I was aiming for something that looked as if it could legitimately have come from the last century and that I would be proud to display on my desk."

The proof of concept, completely stand-alone prototype is powered by two AC adapters and features a network-enabled Arduino-style microcontroller running custom code in the base. The board has been programmed to check Vaughan's Twitter account every 30 seconds for new Tweets. If anything new has arrived, it's printed out onto the roll of cut-down thermal till receipt paper (BPA-free of course) using a tiny thermal printer hidden in the base.

New Tweets are printed out onto a roll of cut-down thermal till receipt paper using a tiny thermal printer hidden in the base
New Tweets are printed out onto a roll of cut-down thermal till receipt paper using a tiny thermal printer hidden in the base

Such has been the response to his machine that Vaughan is currently designing an improved version which could then be offered for sale. Version 2 would have its power source reduced to just one adapter and be Wi-Fi-enabled instead of physically connected to a router. Users of this version would also be able to access a secure User Control Panel via the network to set up one or more Twitter accounts, or other sources such as Facebook, Google Plus, or RSS feeds. Other features are being added to the list all the time.

"I wouldn't like to guess at a possible price point for a production model," Vaughan told us. "I'm not far enough down that particular road yet."

We'll be keeping a close eye on this project and will let you know when a production model becomes available.

Source: Twittertape

View gallery - 10 images
3 comments
Mr Stiffy
At last! My otherwise worthless life has even less meaning! "Oh - must tweet that to all my imaginary e-friends and fans - who don't dare much for me and my narcisstic crap anyway"... "oh hi guys, your tweets now get printed on paper instead of just on my screen - fab huh!"
Slowburn
Electronic messaging now killing trees.
MasterG
Oh but why? Yes it is very pretty and i can tell extremely usefull. I would buy one if it printed out onto toilet paper. Yes feed in a blank roll of toilet paper and the printed version gets rolled back into a roll to actually then have a purpose. Youtube + twitter + facebook = YouTwitFace.