Back in late 2014, I bought a Little Printer on the cheap. I’d always wanted one – it was cheerful and tactile and whimsical in a moment when most tech… wasn’t. Skeuomorphism was on the skids, back then; ‘flat’ and faceless experiences like iOS7 and Metro ascendant.
I got a steal on Little Printer because the product was already end-of-life’d. Berg, the tiny UK firm producing it, had folded a couple months prior, and while a skeleton crew kept Berg’s servers running, my Little (and very-Bergcloud-dependent) Printer was never meant to last.
But, boy, did Tam love the thing while it worked.
The flashing light that indicated there was news to print was a big excitement. She liked the feed from the ‘Little Men’ books. She particularly adored one feed that dished up Daily Cats.
For a while, she was obsessed with creating the longest-possible uncut Little Printer feed. Just because.
And then, alas, they shut it all down.
I followed along for a bit as one of the founders worked to spin up an open-source version of the Bergcloud servers, but it was fairly gnarly at the start, and frankly, beyond my technical ken. From an end-user perspective, the old cheer and charm seemed permanently out of reach.
Fast-forward, then, four years, when I stumble across this headline: Little Printer returns as an open-source messaging device
The article tells the story, but in short, a small UK consultancy re-built the client side of the equation, going so far as to release an iOS app, and most importantly, a fairly straightforward guide on how to get up and running. A nice little side project for the company portfolio and PR efforts.
It was enough to get me interested. And to attempt late-night open-heart surgery on the circuit board inside Little Printer’s bridge, using a USB-to-TTL cable, old-school SSH, and some very careful copy-and-pasting of commands in terminal windows.
And here we are in 2019, with our Little Friend back in the kitchen.