ASR33 consumables

One of the issues with my ASR33 Teletype is consumables. Where can you buy teletype supplies these days? The three things it eats are paper, ribbon, and paper tape.


This is one of those occasions where google skills are needed! The paper needs to be continuous roll (this machine is not sprocket feed) and around 200mm wide. Well, between 190mm (to allow 72 characters) and about 220mm max width of roll holder area. I suspect it is based on US paper sizes so 8.5" (219mm) is what is expected.

I tried all sorts of googling on this - 8" paper, 8.5" paper, 8" paper, 210mm paper, 200mm paper, etc... I found bugger all.

The magic phrase I was missing is "telex paper". Google that and loads of people sell it, even Staples!

It is the proper stuff, low quality paper but works a treat.


The other concern was ribbons. This time I had no issue though. It seems that typewriter ribbons are still sold, a lot, enough for next day Amazon prime to have them. I tried a couple and found that 1009FN are what I want - they are exactly the right size, and even a black/red ribbon works (printing just the black side). It even has the eyelets at the end to auto reverse.

Some other ribbons worked, but were loose on the spools as the hole in the middle was too big. I have also ordered some black only for 1009FN so I can reverse it without printing red :-)

Paper tape

By far the biggest challenge was paper tape - continuous roll paper 1" wide.

Nobody makes it any more. I contacted the few web sites claiming to sell it, and either no reply, or replies confirming it is not made any more. There is someone selling antique Russian paper tape on eBay, and that is about it.

I was stumped, until I discovered the right phrase to google.


These are 1" wide strips of paper used by air traffic controllers, and there are printers for them, and they take 1" wide paper tape on a roll. And they are still made, and you can buy them, albeit in a box of 10.

I'm happy to sell some of the rolls I have.

They are not quite "proper" paper tape in that they don't have some lubricant in them, and they also have a thermal print layer which is not needed, but otherwise they do work.

I still have some restoration to do on the punch anyway (was playing up even printing in cut down A4 paper), and I need to 3D print some spool holders, but I now have paper tape to play with, so should be a lot easier.


  1. I don't remember ASR33 paper tape having any lubricant when new, but it sure had some once it'd been through the punch! Well, once it'd been sitting under the head overnight it did, anyway...

  2. Modding a thermal head on the punch would be interesting - you could make paper tape that's human-readable.

    Not that the normal isn't, for selected humans that's it.

    1. LOL, indeed. I have mine punching Ok now, but reader has issues with "O" for some reason, which makes no sense at all!

  3. I remember having a couple of rolls of 1" paper tape to play with as a small kid. Made good streamers! I think the last time I saw paper tape being punched was at the visitor centre at Jodrell Bank, which must've been about 40 years ago!

  4. There was a later ASR38, similar to the 33 but with some extra features and options. It could use both sides of the red-black ribbons. You'd switch colors by sending some special control sequences (shift-in / shift-out maybe). No idea how many of those are still around.

  5. Hello there. We are hoping to run some demos of an ASR33 next week as part of an exhibition marking 50 Years of the Department of Computer Science at the University of York. We've managed to source ribbon and telex paper, but have fallen down on the rolls of paper tape. Do you still have any that you'd be willing to let us have please?

    1. It works, but it is technically "flight strip" for air traffic controllers :-) It is 1" wide white paper tape on a reel. Punches nicely. It does also go black with heat (thermal coated). Happy to send a roll, especially if you can mention aa.net.uk helped... Just let me know address.

    2. I also have a "controller" that includes collosal cave and talks 110 Baud 20mA loop directly. https://youtu.be/Fr-HRPr4LxQ https://youtu.be/IrIK8SgE8c8

    3. A reel of paper tape is the post today, along with a little controller to play with.


Comments are moderated purely to filter out obvious spam, but it means they may not show immediately.

TOTSCO 66 is guidance, optional

I feel I need to explain this. The TOTSCO call today, first I have been on, and wow! But a key point was TOTSCO bulletin 66, which is actual...