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42

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 image fast and decompress it at a speed quite capable to keep up with the print-'head'. Obviously they were doing something clever to minimize the hardware ...


40

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, one twice the other. At high speed, a printer could place dots at 120dpi resolution, but could not strike two adjacent dots. At low speed, the resolution was ...


32

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 Type II that included it. So while the name is used simply as MX-80, it's always the MX-80 Type II we're talking. Second, Just because some printer looked alike, ...


28

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 printer's bitmap mode, the computer would render the rotated letters in vertical stripes, corresponding to the printer's lines. This doesn't require all that much ...


26

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, print text, etc. Sending an entire page, of text, as a bitmap to a printer is the way GDI printers work - and is a Very Bad Thing. The original HP LaserJet ...


24

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 thereof by printing a line twice. The Long Read: However, it's difficult to determine exactly where the individual pixels of the monochrome image lie... Which of ...


20

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 essentially rendered the text output in to a graphic that was rotated 90 degrees, and then printed.


14

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 and/or other relatively expensive processing to do the 9-to-8 conversion and back. The upside would be that printing 9 pixels wide would be 12.5% faster than 8 ...


13

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 common to buy a wide carriage (tabulator type) printer. For example, Epson not only sold the MX-80, but also the MX-100 with a wider carriage able to handle up ...


12

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


11

To add to the other answers: Under Windows and GEM, printer drivers could store the current page as a metafile and rasterize it repeatedly as a series of horizontal bands, each band being large enough to fit into printer memory. This was slower than sending the data directly to the printer (since each page had to be rasterized repeatedly) but allowed an ...


11

They simply didn't let you send much of a bitmap The first HP LaserJet printers on the market required you send jobs via PCL language. The language was tuned to pretty much not let you do anything the printer couldn't handle. PCL for the whole page needed to fit in the very limited RAM. Needless to say, PostScript was out of the question on these early ...


10

The manual says nothing more than it can print 12 characters per second and it uses BUSY pin. Even if you have connected BUSY output to CTS input, and turned RTS/CTS handshaking on, there is still a possibility that one or two extra bytes are sent out on the data pin, because the serial string write happens as a single large block, and also the USB packets ...


9

As a condensed answer: On a 9-pin printer (the cheaper kind), the physical pins might make a dot approximately one point (1/72") in diameter. The dots could be placed at 120dpi density and 1/240" precision horizontally, and (by three-pass printing) at 1/216" density and precision vertically. Graphics printing normally used only 8 of the pins; the ninth ...


9

Looking at the Wikipedia article on the LaserJet, it looks like the printer couldn't rasterize a whole page of graphics and you needed a 512K LaserJet Plus to be able to do graphics covering most of a page. That would mean the controller would be rasterizing text to the drum using the built-in ROM raster fonts. The LaserJet Plus followed in September 1985, ...


7

I believe the only way we can answer this question is by members finding 'the earliest' such description. DEC's first CRT terminal device, the DEC VT05 terminal (1970), had tab stops fixed at 8-character intervals. The DEC VT50/VT52 terminals (1974) had tab stops fixed at 8-character intervals. The DEC VT100 terminal, (1978) which replaced the VT52, had tab ...


7

The NeXT Laser Printer had no memory, but a fast non-standard interface fed it bits from its NeXTcube. The NeXT hardware architecture was built around a flexible multichannel DMA controller, so it was really efficient at copying bits from one place to another.


6

First of all, don't underestimate what can be done with 128K of memory. The original LaserJet was released in the era of the IBM 5150, whose base configuration had only 16-64K memory. As another comparison, the original Game Boy handheld had just 4K of memory and game cartridges were as small as 32K, yet were capable of doing quite a bit graphics-wise. They ...


6

A bit of googling finds this Japanese article, and DeepL does a really impressive English translation, which I am mostly just going to quote, with a bit of corrections. Timeline overview: 1960: prototype of fully automatic SAPTON typesetting machine announced 1962: SAPTON-F numeric-only typesetting machine delivered to Japanse Defence Agency 1965: SAPTON-N ...


5

In the late 80ies I bought myself a STAR LC-10 C color dot matrix printer for my Amiga. The Quality was "impressive" (if you hold the printout 2-4m away ). In normal reading distance you could recognize the dots and see the patterns in graphics. The Speed was awful. in high quality mode the printer needed to print every line twice and this was my ...


4

Only a personal anecdote, but I had a Commodore MCS810 (connected to a C64). I only note it because I don't remember seeing anything before or since, and naturally, it is long gone and this is all recalled from the depths of memory. It used a thermal wax ribbon and could take a colour or black ribbon. The colour ribbon featured alternating strips of (from ...


3

Background In photo typesetting four basic generations can be distinguished Generation (1950s): Modified Linotype style machines. Here the metal matrices were modified to carry a character negative to be projected, but otherwise work like before. Generation (1960s): Purpose build photo typesetting. A smaller examples is the Diatype, but large integrated ...


3

The grandfather of all of the color dot-matrix printers was the Epson JX-80, available from 1983. The commands it used to select the colors, starting with a escape-R, were used by practically everyone else. Around 1985/6, Epson introduced a new model with a 24-pin head, I believe the LQ-300-II. We had one at work and printed out all sorts of GIFs, many of ...


3

There were many during the 80s, as almost every printer manufacturer had one or more. A short list may include (from faint memory): INTEGRAL DATA SYSTEMS-Prism 132 Star NX-1000 Rainbow or later NX-2480 Transtar 315 Seikosha GP-700A C.Itho's 1570 The last being the base for the Imagewriter II as Apple had them manufactured by Itochu, like the Imagewriter ...


2

The first HP Laserjet only had 128K of memory. The first LaserWriter, released the next year, had 1.5M. It imaged pages in complete form when the appropriate PS command was received. This was its big advantage over the HP machines, allowing it to construct more complex graphics. That did not last long, however, as improvements to the HP printers and PCL ...


2

Anecdote reinforcing how much they broke things up due limited memory. This was from a page layout printing program, full page of real estate advert text to which they manually fixed high res photos of houses then photo-reproduced the lot. (I'm sure many of you have seen such paper magazines outside real estate agents). This was a solution replacing manual ...


2

Back in 1991 we had an HP LaserJet with a very small amount of memory. It was sold as "software rendering" (or something like that). We bought it because it was way cheaper than the standard model. We didn't have too much money, and heck... we wanted a laser printer! The thing is, all the image was rendered as bitmap in the workstation, not in the ...


1

The statement "Laser printer operate in a line by line base" is very misleading. (I'd make this a comment on that answer, but StackExchange won't let me). Yes, they might have had a mode of operation to emulate line printers and dot-matrix printers, but that's not their intrinsic behaviour. And the timelines seem a bit out too. I first had access ...


1

I remember at the time, I had a wide-carriage (14") dot matrix printer. I would keep two boxes of continuous feed perforated paper, and change paper as I needed for doing letter size portrait, or "computer paper". "Computer paper", also known as green-bar paper, was called that as it was made for mainframe printers, and each sheet was 11" by 14" wide (...


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