Check out the Digital Varityper's fantastic keyboard

The original Varityper was an elaborate and portable-ish typewriter that allowed printed documents to be carefully typeset without enormous linotype machines, the horrors of molten lead, and so forth. Though now gone, the company made a go of it in the digital age and developed some custom computers that accomplished the same feat. I presume that analog assumptions and doomed clients also doomed them—the digital Varitypers used monochrome textmode displays in an age of Apple Macs and Canon Cats—but the keyboards are magical. There are keys for all sorts of typesetting options (and file system functions) that surely looked like crutches at the time but now strike me as refined and highly fit-for-purpose.

I finally spotted one on eBay in working condition, with good photos, but international shipping makes it too expensive for me. If you get it and use it to make a zine, send one to Boing Boing’s secret volcano lair.

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