Google, Wikipedia directly on ASCII terminal?

Grant Taylor cctalk at
Tue Jan 16 14:40:42 CST 2018

On 01/16/2018 01:19 AM, Martin Meiner via cctech wrote:
> Hello guys.


> I am a passionate collector of old computer hardware (PDP8’s) and 
> terminals from the very early 70ies.

To each his / her own.

> It has always been my aim to be able to connect a modem or an acoustic 
> coupler directly to one of my ASCII terminals, dial a number and be 
> connected…with Google!


Are you wanting to connect to Google, like you would a specific BBS?  Or 
are you wanting to connect to something, like an ISP, that you can then 
use to connect to Google across the internet?

The difference is subtle from the terminal's point of view, but very 

> Something like Google-interface but converted to match ASCII terminals 
> (only text, very simple graphics).

I've seen a number of textual interfaces to Google, usually via TUI 
based web browsers.

> I am aware that all searches that return pictures and graphics will 
> not be displayed. But at least search-page should be in plain text, 
> and many websites may as well. Wikipedia would be great…

I don't think that text only is strictly necessary.

1)  There are programs that can convert images into ASCII art.  (With 
varying degrees of success.)
2)  Some terminals support various types of graphics.

I have recently been playing with Sixel and ReGIS graphics, which both 
come from DEC VT2xx / VT3xx / VT4xx days.  So in theory, you could have 
actual 4 or maybe 16 (?) color graphics show up on a DEC VT440 (?) terminal.

> Does anybody know if there exists such an access-number where this 
> conversion is already made, or is there a small device on the market that 
> allows on one side connect to a dial-up modem and on the other side to 
> the terminal and doing the ASCII conversion stand-alone?

I am 99.999% certain that Google has never had an access-number (ala BBS 

I think you're really talking about an old system that provides a shell 
account and a text mode browser to the internet.  -  There are MANY over 
the years.

You could do similar via null modem cable between a terminal and 
something like a Raspberry Pi.

It's my understanding that the WiFi232 pretends to be a modem that can 
initiate TCP connections and convert them to serial.  (Think telnet / 

You could obviously insert a pair of modems and phone lines between the 
terminal and the dial up server.  -  I personally would not want to pay 
for the two phone lines needed to do such.

That being said, I suspect that you could get slower modem speeds to 
work across ATAs & VoIP, or even an old analog phone switch.  (I've 
talked with people about using an old AT&T / Lucent / Avaya 'Partner' 
class phone system for this.

>  It would be really cool to be able to demonstrate to folks that these 
>  terminals can actually look up pages on Google and (with limitations) 
>  also access some pages.

It should be relatively easy to have the terminal connect to a unix 
system and have it run programs to connect.

> Something similar has actually been done in an artistic way 
> a few years ago under: or 

googleBBS seems to provide an example of the ASCII art graphic.  15 
seconds of looking didn't show any telnet (et al) ability to access 

I've seen and messed with Google60 for different reasons (mainframe 
predilections) before.  -  I'm sad to see that Google60 no longer works 
because "Sorry, the Google Web Search API has been shut down in May 2016."

> But I need the real thing working where I can connect my terminals to…

The big issues that I see are:

1)  Do you want the terminal to connect (dial) directly to endpoints, 
ala BBS style?  Or do you want to connect (dial) to an intermediary 
system that can connect to things on your behalf.
2)  I'm not aware of any dumb (or otherwise) terminals that support IP, 
via SLIP or PPP.  So I think you're going to need /something/ to gateway 
between serial and IP via a dial up connection via SLIP or PPP.

I personally would be interested in something, like a Raspberry Pi that 
can function as a shell account server that can accept the (dial up) 
connection on a serial port, and then gateway to the internet via 
standard text mode utilities.

I'd be very interested in text mode utilities that support (basic) 
graphics via Sixel (or ReGIS).

> Any help is appreciated

I don't know if it's help or not, but it's at least feedback.

Grant. . . .
unix || die

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