Tech security reminder: your typewriter ribbon is a keystroke logger.

@brightneedle some good mystery novels use this as a plot point

@feld this all started because I'm a mystery writer (RPGs) and was like...wait hang on...

@brightneedle Yeah, I bought an Sharp typewriter a couple of years ago and it still had a used ribbon in. Fun times trying to work out how to dispose of it securely.

(My eventual solution was fire. Lots of fire.) :blobnervous:

And the letters made with the typewriter are like a beacon that can be traced back to the machine on which they were made.

@xmanmonk @brightneedle I would like to point out the paper which has been written on has logged the key strokes as well! Remember to dispose of it in a secure manner!

@brightneedle What kind of abomination is that?

I used to know typewriter ribbon as a textile tape that could be reused multiple times (and eventually re-inked), until it was worn out.

@galaxis it's a very thin typewriter ribbon, which definitely means you get more ribbon in a cartridge. But yes, I agree, the reinking is much better.

@galaxis @brightneedle single use carbon film type ribbon widely found in the 1980s on typewriters and daisywheel printers (remember those?) it was possible to retrieve a discarded ribbon, open it up and the letters would all be shown in reverse (I remember reading about this security issue in the 80s as well)

@vfrmedia @brightneedle Yeah, I remembered about those when recognizing the daisy wheel in the picture (after sending my reply)...

@galaxis @vfrmedia @brightneedle And the advantage to carbon film ribbons was that the print quality was better, and correction could be done by lifting off the carbon instead of covering up the error.

(Note that this means that the other disadvantage to carbon film was that documents could be altered easily and undetectably by lifting off the print.)

IBM offered four different options AFAIK - a low-end fabric ribbon (with its own mechanism incompatible with the others), a carbon ribbon, a high-end carbon ribbon (for the Selectric Composer, which apparently couldn’t be lifted off), and a “Tech III” high-end fabric ribbon.

@vfrmedia @galaxis @brightneedle The daisywheel printer bundled with the Coleco ADAM advanced its carbon film ribbon on every *second* character in order to use half as much ribbon and to make it a bit more difficult to read what was printed from a discarded ribbon by stamping 2 characters on top of each other.

Nowadays Coleco would be mocked for missing a revenue opportunity by not advancing the ribbon *more* instead so they could make more profit from consumables.

@brightneedle The platten has an impression of *every keystroke ever made on the machine*.

You can always overwrite it by typing in a page of 0 or 1 ;-)

@brightneedle same for label printers, we went through one of the emptied tapes once :)

@antifuchs all I want is a typewriter to only tattle on me because the "e" is worn down or something unique like that

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Toot Planet

The Planet is a small, unrestrictive community, and a customized Mastodon server. We have certain features that don't exist on most mastodon servers, such as being able to post to only other members of this server.

We welcome anyone who wants to come join and whatever language you speak! If you're a creative type, queer, a nerdy enthusiast of Something, you'll definitely feel right at home, but we're proud to be a friendly and welcoming community.

Toot Planet does not keep local image archives more than a year after posting. Don't use social media as a media archive!