Unix systems in their early days originally outputted to physical teletypewriters. Since macOS is a Unix system and is derived from NeXTSTEP and BSD, is this still possible in modern versions of macOS?

  • Maybe. It's going to depend on what you want to do via that teletypewriter. You certainly can't use any graphical programs. You may also have trouble finding serial interfaces with supported drivers. What are you interested in doing? Oct 7 at 22:11
  • @GordonDavisson I don't want to run anything graphical, I was mainly interested in if the support is at all there for accessing a shell through a physical teletype in place of a pty through a terminal emulator.
    – Lilly Cham
    Oct 7 at 22:20
  • 1
    Oh wow, that's a flashback to the old days of headless systems and having to plug in a VT100 terminal via serial port into the system to get to a Unix prompt to see what the system is doing. Oct 8 at 21:53

The term "physical terminal" and "teletypewriter" is quite broad. You're talking products evolved over decades - and thus varying in hardware, functionality, etc.

If you're asking whether you can take an old teletypewriter from the 60's or 70's and hook it up directly to your modern Mac - then the answer is no. Macs (as well as common, modern PCs) simply do not have the hardware interface for connecting to that machinery. Depending on the model of teletypewriter, the hardware interface can vary from very exotic circuits to something resembling an RS-232 serial interface.

However, if you can add some modern electronics and are willing to add or reconfigure software - then yes, it is definitely possible. It doesn't really have much to do with macOS being derived from NeXTSTEP or BSD though - as you could do the same on Linux or Windows for that matter.

Have a look at for example this fun hobby project connecting a really old teletype to a modern computer using a custom developed USB interface:



You might find this helpful:

http://www.club.cc.cmu.edu/~mdille3/doc/mac_osx_serial_console.html https://superuser.com/questions/1059744/serial-console-login-on-osx

Most of the rest of the links I found are quite old.

  • Thank you! I did try searching around quite a bit before asking here but couldn't really find anything, maybe because I didn't specify "serial"
    – Lilly Cham
    Oct 7 at 22:53

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