Keyboards Go Back to the Future

By Edward Cone  |  Posted Monday, June 21, 2010 18:06 PM

by Tim Moran

When last we mentioned a typewriter in this space, it was in a report about extinct careers, including the typist in a pool. We have not stumbled upon a way to resurrect that job, but we did hear about someone who's trying to bring the typewriter, itself, back to the future.

Jack Zylkin, a self-described "enterprising tinkerer," is the mind behind USB Typewriter," which is described as "a new and groundbreaking innovation in the field of obsolescence. "

According to an article at TheRegister.com, Zylkin has found a way to use vintage typewriters as the keyboard for modern computers -- "USB typewriters have been updated by Zylkin's homebrew wizardry to function as USB keyboards for your Mac or PC." A Zylkin-retrofitted typewriter also works "as an iPad keyboard dock, if you have the correct adapter."

The USBtypewriter.com site waxes rhapsodic: "Lovers of the look, feel, and quality of old-fashioned manual typewriters can now use them as keyboards for any USB-capable computer! The modification is easy to install, it involves no messy wiring, and does not change the outward appearance of the typewriter. . .so the end result is a retro-style USB keyboard that not only looks great, but feels great to use."

And all that for about $400 or $500. Being somewhat aged, I certainly remember using a typewriter, both in college and at my first few jobs. I was an IBM Selectric man, myself, so I'm not sure I'd like typing on an old, manual machine and seeing the words show up on the screen; I tend to like today's keyboards, and using a USB Typewriter is probably harder than I would like. This quick brown fox is really a lazy dog.