VOGONS


First post, by sysjunkie

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I kinda got curious about DOS era printers. What are some very popular, well supported, DOS era, parallel port printers? Are any of them documented (like the protocol and such) ?

Reply 2 of 43, by BitWrangler

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Some of them came with a half inch thick manual with all the control codes, check bitsavers.org

Unicorn herding operations are proceeding, but all the totes of hens teeth and barrels of rocking horse poop give them plenty of hiding spots.

Reply 3 of 43, by Caluser2000

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Depends on what you wanted to do with it.

I started with a black and white Panasonic 9 pin dot matrix. Then a HP 600 Deskjet. Then just printed of stuff at work on their laser printers.

Last edited by Caluser2000 on 2021-11-06, 02:16. Edited 1 time in total.

There's a glitch in the matrix.
A founding member of the 286 appreciation society.
Apparently 32-bit is dead and nobody likes P4s.
Of course, as always, I'm open to correction...😉

Reply 4 of 43, by jakethompson1

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sysjunkie wrote on 2021-11-06, 01:52:

I kinda got curious about DOS era printers. What are some very popular, well supported, DOS era, parallel port printers? Are any of them documented (like the protocol and such) ?

First to my mind was Epson FX and LQ dot-matrix printers.
A good way to find out would be to look at the list of drivers that come with Windows 3.1, or WordPerfect 5.x.
Yes, the Epson dot-matrix protocol is documented and called ESC/P. IBM Proprinter was the second most common emulation I think. Virtually all of these printers were thoroughly documented.
LaserJets used PCL which is still in use today.

Reply 5 of 43, by Caluser2000

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The majority of dot matrix printers emulated Epson FX or IBM Pro printers iirc.

There's a glitch in the matrix.
A founding member of the 286 appreciation society.
Apparently 32-bit is dead and nobody likes P4s.
Of course, as always, I'm open to correction...😉

Reply 6 of 43, by TxSnipper

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Parallel dates back a long way in "DOS" modes, under TRS-80 (prior to the coming of IBM base machines) we had "Microsoft" Disk Operating System on them (yes before IBM style machines used it) and used Line printers (dot matrix printers) or Daisy Wheel Printers 16" wide, popularity would likely go later wth coming of apple machines and IBM and before HP was in the Home printer industry I would agree that Epson series then HP dot matrix printers were used a lot.
Almost all stated above are very well documented, including schematics in user manuals and protocols. and remember parallel ports were non-standard until "Centronics" was imposed.
I still use a 1983 Daisy Wheel DWP210 from Tandy on my TRS-80 Model 4, and Tandy 1000sx 8088 machine. (I love the sound of the RATATATAATATATA what can I say)

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Reply 7 of 43, by Errius

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We had an Epson LQ-550 back then I believe. I would like to get hold of the manual for this. Does anyone know when this model was released?

ETA: Hilariously we still have the box for this, though the printer is long gone. The box is so sturdy that it's been used for decades to store document binders and is still going strong.

u7Ji6Qxm.jpg

Last edited by Errius on 2021-11-12, 08:04. Edited 3 times in total.

“I like to dissect PCs. Don't you know I'm utterly insane?"

Reply 8 of 43, by pentiumspeed

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HP 560C Deskjet with my pentium 100 and PII days, back then, after fixing the little "useless" black lever to stay on, the plastic hooks tends to break on these. I analyzed this mechanical operation but still to the day, don't understand what HP needed this to just work. Ideas?

That lever is basically flat bar piece of fiber reinforced black plastic with a hole for pivoting on a plastic frame that has molded in peg and hooks to hold this piece in place. Carriage touches it and push it one or another, but other purposes escapes me.

Cheers,

Great Northern aka Canada.

Reply 9 of 43, by retardware

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jakethompson1 wrote on 2021-11-06, 02:12:

Yes, the Epson dot-matrix protocol is documented and called ESC/P. IBM Proprinter was the second most common emulation I think. Virtually all of these printers were thoroughly documented.
LaserJets used PCL which is still in use today.

Until the Epson TX-80 (and its lesser-known wide paper variant TX-132) was introduced in 1979 and became popular as a cheap alternative, the then-popular Centronics 700 series, in particular the 730 (enthusiasts) and 779 (business) printers were the parallel port printers I saw most often.
The latter was OEMed by Apple by popping an Apple sticker onto it in 1978.

Of course, the Epson printers, like (almost) all others used the Centronics connector.
In the early 1980s the successor of the TX-80, the MX-80 became the de-facto standard printer, cloned by many competitors. Probably most known the Star printers, which later also cloned the Laserjets.

The 9-dot-matrix was not the nicest to read, and so the affordable 24-dot-printers NEC Pinwriter P-6 series became very popular instantly after their introduction, this was 1985 or 1986 iirc.

But as these were not exactly quiet. Their noise was much more annoying than the Epson printers'.
Thus the HP Deskjet 500 became a success instantly with its market introduction in 1988.

Laser printers were quite uncommon with enthusiasts until the early 1990s when the first budget laser printers reached the market.

My personal retro printer history:
1981 Apple Silentype (almost no noise)
1984 IBM Selectric II, connected to my PC via a 8255 to a modded 1973 wordprocessor (nice hammering noise)
1987 Qume Sprint S3/55 highend daisywheel printer with 12-bit parallel interface taken from a disbanded word processing system (I loved the noise! Like a MG 42, just with 3300 rounds/min. And the printhead carriage, driven not by belts but by steel wires, moved so fast that the floor vibrated from the carriage running back/forth at linefeeds. I still feel sad I sold the printer in 1989, it was the most impressive one I ever had...)
1989 HP Deskjet 500 (boringly quiet)
1991 HP Laserjet 2100 (even quieter, only the ozone smell... Strangely there exist almost no images on the web for the first 2100 that was released, HP reused that number later for other printers. Attached the only image I could find .)

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Reply 10 of 43, by Caluser2000

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On my clone 286/16 with Geoworks Ensemble Pro 1.2 9-pin dot matrix out put was stunning for its time. No Adobe or true Type fonts required.

There's a glitch in the matrix.
A founding member of the 286 appreciation society.
Apparently 32-bit is dead and nobody likes P4s.
Of course, as always, I'm open to correction...😉

Reply 12 of 43, by retardware

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AlessandroB wrote on 2021-11-06, 09:25:

The first "Epson Stylus Color"? It was a revolution i remember

Oh yes it was a milestone, first time it got "affordable" to print near photo quality... it was introduced in 1994, late DOS era.

However, there were a lot of color printers ago, which were originally very expensive and print quality was extremely poor for today's standards.

The first color printer was introduced in 1977, the IBM 3287, which wasn't cheap and thus not exactly "popular".

1982 Integral Data Systems Prism Printer Model: 132 was released, other printers followed.
Color printers weren't exactly popular in the 1980s due to their high operating cost and their poor output quality.

By the way, the Epson cloner Star was faster than Epson introducing a color printer, the Star NX-1000C Rainbow Color Printer. My neighbour got one in 1988, it took a looong time to print a dithered image of poor quality. The most annoying thing was the ribbons quickly getting unusable due to the dirtying of the colors, as the dot hammers could not be cleaned when switching colors, so they didn't last long. And the ribbons were expensive!

Reply 13 of 43, by BitWrangler

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Yah, as well as being 4x the price, the color ribbons only had say 2 meters of ribbon in the cartridge where the black had 10. Not super sure on those numbers might have been 4 and 15 and varied by model, but very few seemed to have the same length in color as black, so even if you used a print processor to minimise the muddying they still didn't last anywhere near as many prints as black.

Unicorn herding operations are proceeding, but all the totes of hens teeth and barrels of rocking horse poop give them plenty of hiding spots.

Reply 14 of 43, by Caluser2000

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Star dot matrix color printers is the brand I remember vividly being advertised in all the US computer magazines.

There's a glitch in the matrix.
A founding member of the 286 appreciation society.
Apparently 32-bit is dead and nobody likes P4s.
Of course, as always, I'm open to correction...😉

Reply 17 of 43, by Pierre32

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Caluser2000 wrote on 2021-11-06, 17:30:

Star dot matrix color printers is the brand I remember vividly being advertised in all the US computer magazines.

These are what come to mind for me too. We had a Star NX-1000.

Reply 18 of 43, by BitWrangler

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The Laserjets were well regarded as the holy grail of DTP back then, or for using with a hefty graphic workstation. I don't know if they made much penetration into SOHO unless you had serious output requirements and a budget that allowed... I have a LJ-III stashed.

Unicorn herding operations are proceeding, but all the totes of hens teeth and barrels of rocking horse poop give them plenty of hiding spots.

Reply 19 of 43, by squelch41

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Citizen 120D+s tended to be around quite a bit in homes - pretty basic 9pin dot matrixs

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