This Vintage TI Silent 700 Terminal Connects to a Raspberry Pi and Prints Your Tweets

Texas Instruments’ Silent 700 series of data terminals stand out in the retrocomputing world. At first glance, they look like the…

cameroncoward
over 3 years ago

Texas Instruments’ Silent 700 series of data terminals stand out in the retrocomputing world. At first glance, they look like the electronic typewriters that would become popular in the ’80s and ’90s. But, they’re packing far more functionality than that. Inside a Silent 700 is a processor—the legendary Intel 8080—but, it’s also not a computer. Instead, the Silent 700s were designed to connect to a computer through remote acoustic coupling or serial, and would let you send commands to the computer and view the responses that are printed on a roll of thermal paper.

As a child, Redditor SoFlo1 got to experience the Silent 700 in its heyday to connect to a mainframe at Bell Labs where his father worked. When a vintage Silent 700 popped up on eBay, SoFlo1’s nostalgia took over and he snatched it up. Of course, he wasn’t content letting the Silent 700 just gather dust on a shelf, so he set out turning it into a Twitter printer.

To get the Silent 700 connected to the internet—which didn’t even exist when the machine was designed—SoFlo1 setup a serial connection between a Raspberry Pi and the Silent 700 (much like a similar project from yours truly). A node.js Twitter bot running on the Raspberry Pi looks for specific hash tags, and when it finds them it sends the contents of the tweet to the Silent 700 via serial. The Silent 700 then prints the tweet, and returns to waiting patiently for the next one.

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