It wasn’t that long ago that computers were expensive machines designed to do real work for Serious Business™. In those dark times, it was so economically-prohibitive to build a computer as joke that the idea itself was laughable. Fortunately, the relentless progress of technology over the past few decades has made some computers almost trivially affordable — particularly used computers. Now you can build a computer just for laughs, which is the motivation behind Mason Stooksbury’s computer-printer hybrid The Comprinter.
Stooksbury came into possession of a broken Kodak ESP 3.2 (no relation to the Espressif module) all-in-one printer/scanner, and thought it’d be fun to turn it into a working computer. He envisioned taking it to a coffee shop so he could work while bystanders looked on in confusion. As far as we’re concerned, that’s all the motivation one needs to start a project. Stooksbury also had an old Dell Inspiron 1440 laying around, and so he set out to make this spectacle a reality. 12 and half hours later, The Comprinter was ready for the limelight.
The specifications of the Dell Inspiron 1440 are modest at best. It has a dual-core Intel Pentium T4400 processor, 6GB of DDR2 RAM, a 500GB hard drive, a 14" LCD, and integrated Intel GMA 4500MHD graphics. But, when running Xubuntu Linux, that’s more than enough for a silly project like this. As you’d expect, the biggest challenge was fitting the laptop components inside of the printer. The LCD screen was placed in the lid of the scanner bed, the keyboard was attached to the paper tray, and the motherboard and hard drive were housed inside of the body of the printer. That took a fair amount of trimming to make everything fit, but eventually The Comprinter was functional and ready to make coffee shop patrons scratch their heads.