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71 votes
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Why did line printers have 132 columns?

As so often with basic measurements like this, the roots have been laid out way before today's computers, even before computers (non human that is) at all. From what I read, most line printers have ...
Raffzahn's user avatar
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43 votes

How did early laser printers get by with so little memory?

To print an area of 7.5 by 10 inches at 300 DPI requires 844K if it's kept as a single bitmapped image. Does it? Maybe. Then again one cold think of many simple ways (like RLL) to compress a rendered ...
Raffzahn's user avatar
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40 votes

Typical dpi of dot matrix printers available in the 1980s

The Epson MX-80, upon which many other printers were based, had nine round pins which were vertically spaced at 1/72" intervals. On such printers, the print head could generally move at two speeds, ...
supercat's user avatar
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37 votes
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Where did DOS store graphics fonts?

Fonts for text rendered to the screen or paper in a graphics mode would simply be data shipped with the application. If this was perceived to be non-copy-able, it is likely because it was not (...
Chris Stratton's user avatar
37 votes
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What was the typical thickness of fanfold printer paper?

The paper I used in my dot-matrix printers (and still buy and use today) has 60g/m2 for the cheaper green-lined type and 70g/m2 for the pure white version. There is a rough guideline in the paper ...
tofro's user avatar
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31 votes
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Why did many 9-pin printers use only 8 pins for graphics?

First, it may be good to know that the MX-80 did not feature a bitmap mode for graphics, but only 64 symbols. The MX-80 also used 7 bit encoding, so no room for 8 bit graphic data. It was the MX-80 ...
Raffzahn's user avatar
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31 votes
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ImageWriter II occasionally prints hex dumps

All right; I found the explanation in the technical manual: To determine the actual data being received by your printer, turn the printer off, press the SELECT button, and hold that button down while ...
Jason C's user avatar
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28 votes

How did dot matrix printers do Landscape?

Basically, there were two options: Do it in hardware: Dot matrix printers were available in wide-carriage versions, so they could print A4 landscape / A3 portrait. Do it in software: Using the ...
Michael Graf's user avatar
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28 votes
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Were printed manuals for HP PCL or GL ever published?

My bookshelf says yes, they definitely were: They don't appear to have ISBNs but there are HP part numbers: PCL 5 Printer Language Technical Reference Manual is 5961-0509 (1999 edition? Part 1, Part ...
TomH's user avatar
  • 396
26 votes

How did early laser printers get by with so little memory?

In addition to Raffzahn's usual excellent answer, a few important things to note: PCL still exists. You can (I do...) still write software that sends simple PCL commands to a printer to select fonts, ...
manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact's user avatar
25 votes

Typical dpi of dot matrix printers available in the 1980s

TL;DR; Typical dpi of dot matrix printers available in the 1980s Horizontal: 60, 72, 80, 90, 120, 240 and 360 dpi Vertical: 72 dpi for 8/9 pin and 120 dpi for 12/24 pin printers. Multiples ...
Raffzahn's user avatar
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25 votes
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Compatibility of printers with HP54645D oscilloscope?

[Asking for what to buy is even less valid here than asking for new tech - this is both, so let's assume you're asking about the underlying (historic) standards :))] It's safe to assume that the '...
Raffzahn's user avatar
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23 votes

What was the typical thickness of fanfold printer paper?

There is an old carboard box that used to contain fanfold paper right next to me. Using the label on the box for the number of sheets and a ruler to measure the box, a stack of 2200 sheets was 7 1/2 ...
alephzero's user avatar
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23 votes
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How were printouts done on Commodore PETs

I used to: OPEN 4,4: CMD 4: LIST CMD redirected the $FFD2 output routine to the specified file. Of course, you needed a printer that understood the PET special characters. The CBM 2022 and 2023 did.
user3486184's user avatar
21 votes
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Why didn't PostScript eliminate the need for printer drivers?

they save every program from needing its own separate encyclopedic knowledge of every printer on the market. But then came PostScript, the theory behind which was that you would prepare a printable ...
Raffzahn's user avatar
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20 votes
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How did dot matrix printers do Landscape?

For the PC there was a specific program called, I believe, Sideways that did exactly this. It was targeted mostly towards spreadsheets (at least that's how I saw it most used). As I recall it ...
Will Hartung's user avatar
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20 votes

What kind of printer is shown in the opening title sequence for the movie Desk Set?

You mean this one? (taken from this sequence on Youtube) Well, it isn't 'a printer', but rather the 'computer', at least as far as it goes for that setup :)) It's an IBM 403 Accounting Machine, a ...
Raffzahn's user avatar
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19 votes

Did home computers have mechanical interfaces to typewriters?

I remember such a device described in Personal Computer World magazine, June 1981: https://archive.org/details/PersonalComputerWorld1981-06/page/76/mode/2up?view=theater The Dynatyper allows you to ...
EBCDIC's user avatar
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18 votes
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Did home computers have mechanical interfaces to typewriters?

Some further web searches on my part turned up a brochure for the I/O Pak Computer/Typewriter Mechanical Interface by Rochester Data Incorporated: The Rochester Data I/O Pak is an electro-mechanical ...
Psychonaut's user avatar
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16 votes
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Why were teletype printers not used for DOS computers?

Speed Teletypes were not all limited to use over a modem. Many (e.g., the Model 43 - I had one of those) even had an RS232 compatible interface and could easily be used as a regular computer printer. ...
manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact's user avatar
16 votes

Where did DOS store graphics fonts?

DOS knows nothing about graphics fonts (mostly: it supports different display fonts which can be loaded using CHCP to change the display's code page, and some other minor details.) It was up to each ...
ErikF's user avatar
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15 votes

Why didn't PostScript eliminate the need for printer drivers?

Cost There are significant licensing costs and equipment costs. I'm sure PostScript needs quite a bit more RAM & processing than some of the lower levels of PCL and similar printer languages. As I ...
manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact's user avatar
14 votes

Why did line printers have 132 columns?

The United States has its own paper sizes, two of which are 11"x17" ('ledger/tabloid') and 8.5"x11" ('letter'), which are similar to A3 and A4 and have the same sort of predominance. Early fixed-...
Tommy's user avatar
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14 votes

Why did many 9-pin printers use only 8 pins for graphics?

There would be no technical reason to not use all nine pins, but it doesn't really help either. Remember that the computer speaks to it using 8-bit bytes. Sending 9-bit wide data requires buffering ...
pndc's user avatar
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13 votes

How did dot matrix printers do Landscape?

At that time, how did text programs, spreadsheets, and other tabular reporting applications output in Landscape to contemporary dot matrix printers? For businesses that needed wide printouts, it was ...
Raffzahn's user avatar
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13 votes
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DOS serial printer formats

This question is a near duplicate of 'How can I convert Epson escape codes to a more usable format?', which lists some suggestions for tools for managing Epson sequences, but I'll provide some more ...
knol's user avatar
  • 11.9k
12 votes

Serial Receipt Printer Garbage

Looks like inverse polarity. The CR code is 015, 00001101 in binary. The codes for "=" and "y" are 075 and 171, 00111101 and 01111001 respectively. Note the sequence of four zeros in CR, and ...
Leo B.'s user avatar
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12 votes

Connecting Panasonic "Penwriter" RK-P400C to modern PC using USB to serial cable

I successfully got the RK-P400C printing from a serial console (minicom on Linux) today. Here's how to do it for future reference...;) The DB25 connector on the right side is a 25 pin serial port. At ...
MattyZ's user avatar
  • 351
12 votes

Why didn't PostScript eliminate the need for printer drivers?

tl;dr: PDF is overtaking the world, and PDF is a subset of PostScript. PostScript was quite demanding. In the early days a PostScript printer might well be the most powerful computer in the building, ...
Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen's user avatar
12 votes

Why did many 9-pin printers use only 8 pins for graphics?

EscP2 language did specify a 9-pin mode: ESC ^ but it was not very efficient, a whole byte was needed just to send the 9th pixel. Epson reference manual
Stavr00's user avatar
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