August 23, 2013
UK Man Builds Homemade Ticker-Tape Machine That Prints Tweets
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
A UK man has developed a modern-day version of the 19th century ticker-tape machine that prints out tweets instead of stock price information.
"I have a keen interest in history and have always been fascinated by ticker-tape machines as a design piece," Vaughan told the BBC's Zoe Kleinman.
A ticker-tape was the earliest digital electronics communications machine. It was able to transmit stock price information over telegraph lines. The device, which was used from 1870 through 1970, consisted of a paper strip which ran through a machine known as a stock ticker. It received its name due to the sound it would make as the paper strip rolled out.
"One day I thought it would be nice to have one sat on your desk [sic] and started to think about what information it could produce. Twitter is perfect," Vaughan told Kleinman.
He said he spent three months developing the machine, with most of his time spent on trying to find the right parts.
"I'm a web developer by trade so actually building stuff is quite new to me," he said in the BBC interview. "I built it all from scratch after finding some examples online."
The Twittertape machine is able to connect to a computer through an ethernet cable and pull data straight from Vaughan's Twitter account. Future versions of the machine could include a control panel so the owner could program the machine to print from a particular hashtag or from multiple accounts.
Vaughan's Twittertape machine has gained some notable attention from Steampunk and it may become even more popular based on a study published in July.
Researchers said that Twitter will one day become more comparable to a television rather than a social network. The team from Columbia Business School and the University of Pittsburgh said Twitter will become less of a communications vehicle and more of a content-delivery vehicle.
"Peer-to-peer contact is likely to evolve to the next great thing, but with 500 million followers, Twitter isn’t just going to disappear. It’s just going to become a new way to follow celebrities, corporations, and the like,” Columbia Business School Professor Olivier Toubia said in a statement in July.