So, one Saturday afternoon I was on the way to get some lunch at my favorite Vietnamese restaurant with my mom, when I spotted an estate sale sign. At first, I thought it would be cleared out by now, but when I saw that it didn’t close until 3pm I decided to give it a try. We pulled to the curb, and as soon as I walked into the house I could see that almost everything was gone. I went over to look at the remaining books on a shelf (natural instincts), and find nothing there. Then, I walk into one room where I see an old computer/typewriter looking device. It was a Texas Instruments Silent 700 Data Terminal model 703 from the 80s. I quickly searched the name in Google and saw listings for this device at ~$300. At this point, I was pretty astounded. But, there was no price on it, so I knew I had to wipe that grin off my face before I went and asked how much they wanted for it. When I asked, the two women told me they thought it was military-related (most likely from the carrying case’s look), but a guy came by earlier and confirmed that it was NOT used in the military. One of the women then proceeded to make an offer of 5 bucks. I was sold.
After a bit of research, I found out that this device is a typewriter, that uses heat-sensitive paper (surprisingly still very abundant), and can connect to a modem and connects at 300 baud. Unlike the other models of the Silent 700, the 703 does not have an integrated acoustic coupler and modem that could receive data at 30 characters per second. Instead, it has a 25-pin RS-232 compatible serial port, but with a female connector.
As soon as I got home, I used a pdf online (http://chiclassiccomp.org/docs/content/computing/TI/TI_Silent700_703_707_QRC.pdf) to guide me with the first steps of using this machine. The first thing I did was take off the paper compartment cover and load the paper (took a few tries), put the cover back on, and flip the “on/off” switch in the back. I was then greeted with a short beep and a prompt stating “703,” the specific version of the model I have. I then flipped a few switches at the top to change it to local mode (since I was not connected to an external modem), and began typing. It works!
My next steps would be to purchase a serial-to-USB cable and hook it up to a desktop to connect my terminal to a telnet session (instead of getting an old modem). Or, I could even connect this to a TNC to use on a packet radio setup and have it display anything and everything that gets transmitted on a packet radio net. I’ll definitely have to consider these two uses. But, other than that, there is not much else I can do with it. Unfortunately, I cannot connect it to my Commodore 64 or VIC 20.
Another great post about the TI Silent 700 data terminal model 703: http://vintagevolts.com/?p=766#comment-2420