Twitter Goes Steampunk Thanks to Twittertape


A British man has brought together two forms of communication technologies, making a tickertape machine that can print tweets.

Tickertape machines were used in the late 19th century to transfer stock prices over telegraph lines, printing them out on paper tape at the destination. In effect they were simply Morse code machines that printed out normal characters rather than dots and dashes. The need for finance companies to dispose of the used tape led to the “tickertape parade.”

Web developer Adam Vaughan put together his machine early last year, but it’s now getting global attention thanks to a report on the BBC website. Rather than modifying a real tickertape machine (which would be expensive to buy), he built it from individual second-hand components, many taken from clocks.

The ‘Twittertape‘ connects to the web via an Ethernet cable and pulls messages from Vaughan’s timeline every 30 seconds. Rather than printing on tape with ink, it uses a thermal printer to print onto the paper used in cash registers.

Vaughan is working on a second model which would add in WiFi and a control panel that let the user switch the feed, change it to follow a hashtag rather than a full account, or even add support for RSS feeds. However, he tells the BBC that modifying the technology has been made more difficult by Twitter restricting use of its API.

(Image credit: Adam Vaughan)

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