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Brother EP-20

·816 words·4 mins

If you have been following me on Social Media, You know that lately I’ve let me ADHD lead me into a new hobby/obsession – typewriters! My wonderful girlfriend got me an absolutely beautiful Royal Portable typewriter.

Turns out that’s all it took to get me real excited about vintage word processing. I’ve always had a thing for old computer gear, turns out that soft spot also has room for pre-electronics word processing gear as well. I spent about an hour playing around with the typewriter the day I got it: and even more after I had put in a bit of elbow grease to clean it up.

Since then I’ve bought two more typewriters, both electric. I have my eye on a few more non-electric, as well as the IBM Selectric; if I have the chance to use the same kind of typewriter Isaac Asimov used of course I’m going to take it. I’ve also branched out a bit into other vintage computer gear: specifically old dumb terminals. I’m not being mean there: by the way. “Dumb” terminals were basically computers without a brain. They’d be hooked up to a mainframe where all the processing happened: the terminal was basically a monitor and a keyboard so users could interact With the mainframe.

Although now that I think about it calling them “dumb” terminals does seem a bit abelist: so I think maybe better name is needed.


All of that was a really long lead-in to this: I wrote this post on the Brother EP-20!

This is something I think I’m going to do more of in the future. Partially because writing a post today on technology that came out before I was born is really cool. Yes, I have a cose of terminal nerd-itus. But it’s also an ADHD thing — writing like this is about distraction free as I can get. No browser with an endless internet: no Emacs where I can get districted by trying to modify things that don’t really matter : nothing but me and the words in my head being put to paper.

There are still a few things to figure out before I can make the EP-20 my main writing machine. The first is building a little lap tray/paper holder. See, the EP-20 comes with two cartridges that it can use to print onto paper. Only problem is that they are unique to the EP-20 ( and the EP-22, I think ). Unique plus old means getting new ones is expensive, especially as they are no longer manufactured. However, the EP-20 has a neat trick up it’s Sleeve: it can print on thermal paper!

I bought a roll of fox thermal paper (at about $8 a roll for 164 ft), which is what I’m writing on right now. The roll is a bit unwieldy; So I want to make a little holder for it so that I don’t have to manually unroll the paper as I type.

The other thing I want to figure out: is how to turn THIS (the physical copy of this post I’m writing) into THIS (text on a web page). I’m not re-typing this whole thing out just so I can put it online, One suggestion I’ve seen is to use the Rocketbook App to scan pages in using a printed template. I’ve used Rocketbook in the past, I actually backed their Kickstarter for their whiteboard sticker dealios. The app works pretty well, and the paper template is pretty simple. It’s something you print onto an 8½ X 11 sheet of paper and then cut out the center. Place it over the physical copy; use the app to toke a photo and boom! The image & text get emailed to you, Put in Dropbox, or whatever you have configured the app to do for you.

What’s nice about the Rocketbook solution is that it will work equally well whether I write on the EP-20, the Royal Portable, or any other machine I get in the future. So that’s handy.

Anyhoo, that’s about all I wanted to say, I think.

Actually: one last thing I wanted to mention is this: this is a lot more stream-of-consciousness than I’m used to. It does feel a bit weird, but also kind of freeing. It’s a good feeling. Let’s see if it means that I write more in 2022!

Post-Editing Note #

I used Rocketbook to scan the page – it worked pretty well!

Definitely some issues with the EP-20 font that Rocketbook wasn’t quite able to figure out; a quick edit pass was all I needed though.

I also scanned the page with some overlap, which I think I’m going to try and not do next time.

If you want to see a PDF of the original copy you can check that out here, if you want to see the OCR transcription you can see that here.