Noob help needed - Old LED Display

I'm completely new to the Arduino thing, so am just looking for a place to start in terms of researching how to do this project.

Basically I came across an old red LED display (Kind of like this - It connects to a box and its own keyboard via a parallel cable attached to the display. But these have been damaged.

Eventually I want to hook it up to a microphone so it can react to music. But until then I just want to get it working, e.g. being able to display words of my choice.

I don't want to have to link it up to a computer everytime I use it, as this affects portability. (For example, connecting the parallel cable to an Arduino and then usb stick with the programming to the same Arduino (if that's possible/ how it works))

Does anyone know what sort of things I should be looking at/ point me in the right direction. Any information would be helpful. Thanks.

The sign is usually driven by shift registers. You need to get into the sign section to see what goes where. This is NOT a beginner's project. Spend some time learning the basics of using an Arduino before jumping off the cliff...

You need to learn to control pins and send a buffer to an address or set of addresses to use the sign. Usually the sign contains the memory, processor, and shift registers. The control pad loads the sign's memory. It will be next to impossible to know what sequence of operations do that without at least service literature (likely non-existent), but you could redesign it from the ground up...

Good Luck! -fab