The Teletype Model 33 is an electromechanical teleprinter designed for light-duty office. It is less rugged and less expensive than earlier Teletype machines. The Teletype Corporation introduced the Model 33 as a commercial product in 1963"Auerbach Guide to Alphanumeric Display Terminals", Auerbach Publishers, 1975 after being originally designed for the US Navy. There are three versions of the Model 33:
The Model 33 was one of the first products to employ the newly standardized ASCII code. A companion Model 32 used the more established five-level Baudot code. Because of its low price and ASCII-compatibility, the Model 33 was widely used with early .
A Model 33 cost about $700, much less than other teleprinters and computer terminals at the time, such as the Friden Flexowriter and the IBM 1050. Early video terminals, such as the Tektronix 4010, did not become available until 1970 and cost around $10,000. However the introduction of integrated circuits and semiconductor memory later that decade allowed the price of cathode-ray-tube-based terminals to fall below the price of a Teletype. Teletype machines were gradually replaced in new installations by dot-matrix printers and CRT-based terminals in the mid to late 1970s. Basic CRT-based terminals which could only print lines and scroll them are often called glass teletypes to distinguish them from more sophisticated devices.
This alternate naming convention was continued as other computer manufacturers published their documentation. For example, Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems sold the Teletype Model 33 ASR as "Teletype ASR-33".
The design objective for the Model 33 was a machine that would fit into a small office space, match with other office equipment of the time and operate up to two hours per day on average. Since this machine was designed for light duty use, adjustments that Teletype made in previous teleprinters by turning screws were made by bending metal bars and levers. Many Model 33 parts were not heat treated and hardened. The base was die-cast metal, but self-tapping screws were used, along with parts that snapped together without bolting. As another cost-saving measure, the paper tape equipment was dependent on the keyboard and page printer mechanisms. Earlier Teletype machine designs, such as the Model 28 ASR, allowed the user to operate the keyboard to punch tape while transmitting a previously punched tape and to punch a tape while printing something else. Independent use of the paper tape punch and reader is not possible with the Model 33 ASR.
The Model 33 used the seven-bit upper-case only ASCII code, also known as CCITT International Telegraphic Alphabet No. 5, with one (even) parity bit and two stop bits. It is usually geared to run at maximum speed ten characters per second speed, i.e., 100 words per minute (wpm), but other speeds are available: 60 wpm, 66 wpm, 68.2 wpm, and 75 wpm.Teletype Parts Bulletin 1184B page 35 figure 38 There were also many typewheel options. The Teletype Parts BulletinTeletype Parts Bulletin 1184B pages 27 – 29 figure 29 – 31 lists sixty-nine available Model 33 typewheel options.
The Teletype Model 33 contained an answer-back mechanism that was generally used in dial-up networks such as the TWX network. At the beginning of the message, the sending machine could transmit an enquiry character or WRU (Who aRe yoU) code, and the recipient machine would automatically initiate a response which was encoded in a rotating drum that could be programmed by breaking off tabs. The answer-back drum in the recipient machine would rotate and send an unambiguous identifying code to the sender, so the sender could verify connection to the correct recipient. The WRU code could also be sent at the end of the message. A correct response would confirm that the connection had remained unbroken during the message transmission. Finally, the sending machine operator would press the disconnect button. Note that the receiving machine did not need operator intervention. Since messages were often sent across multiple time zones to their destination, it was common to send a message to a location where the receiving machine was operating in an office that was closed and unmanned overnight.
The Teletype Model 33, including the stand, is 34 inches (86 cm) high, 22 inches (56 cm) wide and 18.5 inches (47 cm) deep, not including the paper holder. The machine weighs 75 pounds (34 kg) on the stand, including paper. It requires less than 4 Amperes at 115 VAC 60 Hz. The recommended operating environment is a temperature of 40 °F to 110 °F (4 °C to 43 °C), a relative humidity of 2 to 95 percent and an altitude of 0 to 10,000 feet (3050 m). The printing paper is an 8.44 inch by 4.5 inch diameter roll and the paper tape is a 1000 foot (~300m) roll of one-inch (25.4mm) wide tape. Ribbons are 0.5 inch wide by 60 yards long with plastic spools and eyelets to trigger reversal of the ribbon feed direction (to even out the ink usage over the length of the ribbon).
Teletype also introduced a more expensive ASCII Model 35 for heavy duty use, whose printer mechanism was based on the older, rugged Model 28. The basic Model 35 was mounted in a light gray console that matched the width of the Model 33, while the Model 35 ASR with eight-level mechanical tape punch and reader was installed in a console about twice as wide. The tape reader was mounted separately from the printer-punch mechanism on the left side of the console and behind it was a tray for storing a manual, sheets of paper, or other miscellanea. To the right of the keyboard was a panel that could optionally house a rotary dial or Touch-Tone pushbuttons for dialing a connection to a network via telephone lines. The printer cover in later units also featured sound deadening materials, making the Model 35 somewhat quieter than the Model 33 while printing and punching paper tapes. All versions of the Model 35 had a copy holder on the printer cover, making it more convenient for the operator when transcribing written material.
The Model 38 (ASR-38) was constructed similar to and had all the typing capabilities of a Model 33 ASR with additional features. A two color ribbon and ASCII control codes allowed automatic switching between red and black output while printing. An extended keyboard and typewheel supported upper and lower case printing with some additional special characters. A wider pin-feed platen and typing mechanism allowed printing 132 columns fan fold paper making its output similar to the 132 column page size of the then industry standard IBM 1403 model printers.
More expensive Teletype systems used photo readers that used light sensors to detect the presence or absence of punched holes in the tape. These could work at much higher speeds (hundreds of characters per second). More sophisticated punches were also available that could run at somewhat higher speeds; Teletype's DRPE punch could operate at speeds up to 240 characters per second.