Panning shots of a seemingly fast (CAD?) printer are shown in Pentagon Wars, for example in this clip at timecode 8:34: https://youtu.be/aXQ2lO3ieBA?t=514

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What is it, and how does it work?

  • The film in question is labeled comedy, so the "plotter" might be something the filmmakers dreamed up and simply outputs a preprinted paper.
    – UncleBod
    Commented Jul 29, 2021 at 7:59
  • Even in a "serious" film meant to be very historically accurate, you'd pretty much always use a pre-printed prop page rather than trying to do a print live on camera. Losing production time debugging and replacing ink would be a major problem. A real printer is always much louder than a simple slot you shove some paper through, etc.
    – wrosecrans
    Commented Aug 4, 2021 at 16:40

1 Answer 1


If this is a plotter, it might be an electrostatic plotter. But it looks far more likely to be a blueprint copier (or heliographic copier) which isn't a computer device at all.

  • 2
    In my recollection, the last time I looked at a modern “plotter” it was a giant inkjet printer. I do miss the dance of a honest-to-goodness plotter; I could stare at them for hours… Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 19:44
  • 2
    My house is filled with "sharpie robots", some of which can be used as (very slow) optical digitizers. Electrostatics were the very large format, professional plotters that big engineering shops used. They were very expensive. The mechatronics boom of the 1980s and early 1990s made pen plotters fast enough and large enough to out-compete the big electro plotters
    – scruss
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 20:45
  • 1
    This definitely looks like a Heliographic (or Diazo) copier.
    – PeterI
    Commented Jul 29, 2021 at 10:13
  • 1
    HP has a site on their old pen plotters: hpmuseum.net/exhibit.php?class=4&cat=24
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jul 29, 2021 at 17:39
  • 1
    @StephenKitt - fair enough - still brings back some nostalgic memories, including changing pens on the fly when I wanted more than the 4 available on the carousel.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jul 29, 2021 at 19:41

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