My subscription to Life expired, but I still have a subscription to Mad.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Surfin': Green Keys and Hams

Read this week’s installment of Surfin’: Green Keys and Hams, then leave your comments here. (Hey - I just realized how appropriate the "green" of this week's column is considering that today is St. Patrick's Day.)


  1. Was just in the Green Keys and Hams and wow what memories. I am retired US Navy and I was a Navy Radioman with a classification of 2342 Teletype repairman. I went to Teletype repair school in San Diego 1973 and seeing the picture of the MOD 28 Teletypewriter it brought back all my good memories of my Radioman days. During my 20 years I met all my goals and one was to get promoted to Radioman First Class, RM1, another was to be a TTY repairman and the main one of course was to Retire from the Navy with 20 years of service to our country. TTY repair school was alot of fun and I learned alot. In our class we even had two South Vietnam Navy radioman sailors and we learned alot from them. By the time I went to the TTY school I had already been over to that war twice so alot of us had much in common. Also seeing the tapes under each picture, we RM's could read each line of holes so if for some reason we couldn't see what was typed we read the holes. Now if you remember back a year or so when the fine folks in Florida was having a problem with CHAD, well I am here to say they don't know a thing about CHAD unless they empty the CHAD box where the CHAD collects when the holes are punched. So when they talk about CHAD I just laugh. I would like to take one of those CHAD collection boxes and just dump it on the floor, makes for a big mess to pick up. hai hai. Anyways thanks for the memories.

    73's Mike, N0mud

  2. W5AC still has a Model 19 in the shack ( What do Aggies do with a teletype machine, you may ask? (from

    "On May 2, 1974, W5AC transmitted a 65-foot long telegram to that university in Austin [our rivals at University of Texas], via Radio Teletype (RTTY). The telegram was signed by "a large cross-section of students", and took 8 W5AC members 4 hours to transmit. Extremely long telegrams were a frequent activity of W5AC around that time, often sent to the Fish Drill Team when they were at the national drill competition in Washington, D.C. The Model 19 machine would run radio teletype (RTTY) on the 20 meter band for hours, breaking every 10 minutes to send identification. Similar telegrams made their way to Aggies playing basketball in Austin in the late 1970's, covered with the names of students on campus wishing them well - another demonstration of "Aggie Spirit".

  3. Stan,

    Thanks for bringing back some memories of the great old TTY machines. I was probably one of the first elementary school students in NYC to learn to use a computer. This was in the early 70s long before the introduction of the IBM PC. Our school acquired a couple of Model 33 TTYs which were connected via a telecoupler (predecessor of a modem) to the Dartmouth (NH) College mainframe. In the 6th grade a few of us students taught ourselves the BASIC programming language, which was first invented on the Dartmouth system. The teachers did not know how to use computers so they just left us alone with the teletypes and copies of the first BASIC programming manual.

    We also used the teletypes to "save" our programming. I used to get a kick out of writing my programs online then turning on the paper tape punch and having my program print back out on the yellow punch tape. I still have some of my original punch tapes from that era as well as from when I used similar model 33s connected to a DEC PDP-8 mini-computer at a different school.

    Later in life I came across the old machines yet again when they were in use at broadcast stations used for printing out the latest news bulletins from the AP. There was something about the sound of the TTY coming to life and pounding out a breaking news story with such thunderous authority.


  4. The article brought back memories of my first on-line activity. I had a model 33 ASR TTY connected to a 300-baud modem. With this set-up, I could go to Compuserve and other Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) that were up and running long before the internet. Then, in the late 80's, the TTY found use as my computer printer. Later, I sold the Model 33 at the famous TRW swap meet in Los Angeles. Fun times!