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What is *YOUR* Biggest Retro-Computing Hardware Disappointment?


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#26 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 13, 2018 8:05 AM

Don't get me started on cell phones guys, I may end ranting like an old coot.  I agree with Keetah, like most everything, the cellphone industry is audacious when it comes to digging into the pockets of the stupid gullible.  It boggles my mind that they've convinced so many mindless drones into standing in line FOR HOURS to fork over hundreds of dollars for the 'next version' for simple things like 'button placement' or some other 'aesthetic variance'. 

 

After paying through the nose for the phone, they get consumers to bend over every month for more 'monetary action'... all while the companies continually spy on your metadata... ALL AT YOUR EXPENSE.  What a freaking racket!

 

Things must be good on the business side of things as I see phone center stores on nearly every street corner and in every mall, sometimes more than one in a mall.



#27 OLD CS1 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:39 AM

Don't get me started on cell phones guys, I may end ranting like an old coot.  I agree with Keetah, like most everything, the cellphone industry is audacious when it comes to digging into the pockets of the stupid gullible.  It boggles my mind that they've convinced so many mindless drones into standing in line FOR HOURS to fork over hundreds of dollars for the 'next version' for simple things like 'button placement' or some other 'aesthetic variance'. 

 

After paying through the nose for the phone, they get consumers to bend over every month for more 'monetary action'... all while the companies continually spy on your metadata... ALL AT YOUR EXPENSE.  What a freaking racket!

 

Things must be good on the business side of things as I see phone center stores on nearly every street corner and in every mall, sometimes more than one in a mall.

 

While my selection of on-phone programs has dwindled, this is my phone below.  But that is another conversation altogether.

 

1049154_0_original.jpg



#28 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:51 AM

My biggest disappointment was a memory expansion board.  At the time I thought, it had the capability to take the platform "to the next level" and build excitement since a fair number of them were made enabling all the major participants to purchase one.

 

Fast forward a couple of years and I'm not aware of anything of real significance appearing for it.  It could be that some don't want to program for an 'obscure device', others prefer to 'keep it retro-compatible' and some may not know how to program for it or have the time to learn or even a will to program for it.  

 

Everyone is in the hobby for their own reasons, and rightly has their own agendas and goals.  Never having being an assembly programmer and one 'currently in decline', I'm just happy for what is available.  Still, I think 'what could have been'.



#29 Keatah ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:25 PM

If we talk about memory boards exclusively for a moment - I had a great experience. Completely opposite. I went to one of the CES computer shows in Chicago back in the 1970's and they had a display case of hardware. I was a kid, and I was extraordinarily fascinated with seeing the Microsoft RamCard for the Apple II+. It added 16K, bringing the total to 64K! I just absolutely had to have one. It was futuristic. It had a futuristic box and marketing materials. It was so satisfying and awe-inspiring to see a complete and full array of memory chips sitting on a circuit board, along with the support chips forming a command and control network off to the side.. It was an important feature, enough so that in later models like the //e and //c Apple would supply 64K out of the box. A lot of software seemed to use it. And even a small RamDisk was made available!

 

I got one and I felt like a million bucks. I couldn't believe how smart I was. I actually upgraded the memory of a real computer! My BBS made use of it, I found utilities to put DOS in high memory there, I played with the RamDisk - dreaming of the day when computers would be able to load software instantly from memory with no moving parts and no disks. I always envisioned it as a nook & cranny sitting on top of the regular memory. A cozy special area. A place to put special performance-enhancing programs and routines. And that helped my infantile brain visualize a memory map. In fact it encouraged me to ask questions like how the computer knew about the extra memory, or how did it talk to it and access it. I think it was the best $300 I spent at the time aside from getting into the Apple II ecosystem itself.

 

The whole experience was satisfying because I felt my computer was smarter and more spacious and capable of doing anything and everything as long as the RamCard was involved. You see, us kids often equated computer power to how much K it had. Not the clock speed, not the bus-width, or anything else. K was power handed down from the realm of god! And it applied to arcade games, chess computers like the Chess Challengers from Fidelity, home consoles, and of course computers. The more K the better, either RAM or ROM.

 

We dreamed of the day of building an artificial intelligence in the memory array, and more. Naturally it wasn't as great as all our hopes and aspirations, but it was an essential and eventually required component of II series computing.


Edited by Keatah, Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:37 PM.


#30 Emehr OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:53 PM

Disappointment #1: Back in 2000 I bought a Castlewood Orb 2.2GB removable media drive to supercede my SyQuest EZ135. It was the UltraSCSI version. I was excited about it because each cartridge would've been larger than my meager 800MB hard disk. I could not get my Performa 6116 to see it and ended up returning it after a fruitless back and forth with Castlewood's tech support.

 

Disappointment #2 (not really retro but maybe in a few years when someone reads this thread it will be): A few years ago I recommended that we get a Nexus 7 tablet for work. It seemed like a good option to interface with our aging early-90s total station, which has serial comms. I found serial adapters to connect to the Nexus. Great! I found an app that could talk to the total station. Excellent! Unfortunately, the app was buggy, had a terrible UI, and didn't like to retain the connection to the total station. Grr! After time went on, the Nexus became more and more unresponsive and the battery life turned to shit. Eventually, Google's own apps, namely Google Maps, wouldn't even run without hanging the system. Junk!



#31 JamesD OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 14, 2018 1:26 PM

Speaking of memory expansions... Rainbow Magazine published the design for a 128K RAM upgrade for the Tandy CoCo.
I purchased all the chips to build it except the RAM because I didn't have the cash yet.
After soldering on the board, I set aside to wait for the RAM.
After several months, no software of interest had materialized for the expansion, and it was relegated to a bin with electronics parts.
I think there was a printer buffer program, but I didn't have a printer yet, and maybe I missed it, but I never saw a one swap disk copy or RAM disk program for it.
Since I never built the entire board it was only a moderate disappointment, but I guess that qualifies.



#32 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 14, 2018 2:00 PM

Disappointment #2 (not really retro but maybe in a few years when someone reads this thread it will be): A few years ago I recommended that we get a Nexus 7 tablet for work. It seemed like a good option to interface with our aging early-90s total station, which has serial comms. I found serial adapters to connect to the Nexus. Great! I found an app that could talk to the total station. Excellent! Unfortunately, the app was buggy, had a terrible UI, and didn't like to retain the connection to the total station. Grr! After time went on, the Nexus became more and more unresponsive and the battery life turned to shit. Eventually, Google's own apps, namely Google Maps, wouldn't even run without hanging the system. Junk!

I had to look up "total station," and found this
https://en.wikipedia...i/Total_station

Is that what you're using?

I would think serial adapters would have trouble with modern Windows systems, too. 

 

Theodolite on the iOS App Store is an interesting toy. There are things like it in Google Play, but I'll wager they aren't as polished. It might be fun for you to play with if you have a surveying background. 

 

I loved the Nexus 7 until I didn't. Did you have the first generation one (with a leathery, textured back panel), or the second-generation Asus model? Both were great at the time, at the price, but they didn't hold up well. The first gen one played N64 emulators very well.  ;)  It seems like Google is out of the business of Android tablets now.  :?



#33 Emehr OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 14, 2018 3:04 PM

I had to look up "total station," and found this
https://en.wikipedia...i/Total_station

Is that what you're using?

I would think serial adapters would have trouble with modern Windows systems, too. 

 

Theodolite on the iOS App Store is an interesting toy. There are things like it in Google Play, but I'll wager they aren't as polished. It might be fun for you to play with if you have a surveying background. 

 

I loved the Nexus 7 until I didn't. Did you have the first generation one (with a leathery, textured back panel), or the second-generation Asus model? Both were great at the time, at the price, but they didn't hold up well. The first gen one played N64 emulators very well.  ;)  It seems like Google is out of the business of Android tablets now.  :?

 

 

Yeah, sorry, I should've specified what a total station was. The Nexus was the Asus model and, thankfully, it wasn't too costly of an experiment. We have since purchased a newer total station with a sweet, sweet USB port where I can download to a thumb drive and all is well. The Nexus was probably fine for other purposes but for breathing new life into aging tech it was a disappointment. I do concede that maybe we were asking too much of it, though.  :lol:

 

Theodolite looks like fun! And it's on sale! Thanks for pointing me to that.  :thumbsup:



#34 Ransom OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 14, 2018 3:46 PM

My biggest computer disappointment was the TI-99/4a. I got it, and then the next day it was all over the news that they’d burn your house down. So my parents made me take it back to the store.

#35 OLD CS1 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:06 PM

My biggest computer disappointment was the TI-99/4a. I got it, and then the next day it was all over the news that they’d burn your house down. So my parents made me take it back to the store.

 

Not funny, but funny.

 

Today: "Samsung tablets blow up and can take down a plane!"  "What do you mean I can't take my Samsung tablet on the plane?!"

 

Every junkie needs a fix :D



#36 thetick1 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:41 PM

My biggest retro disappointment was getting Aztec Challenge for the Vic 20!  My Vic 20 was new and I was a naive young child.  My older and much richer cousin showed me Aztec Challenge on his C64 and it was just AWESOME!  So technically this is a hardware disappointment as I thought my Vic20 games would look almost as good as the C64 games. 

 

aztec-challenge.png

 

I quickly ran out and spent all the chore money I saved up for months to get Aztec Challenge for my Vic 20.  I just knew it would be awsome as the packaging was exactly the same for the Vic 20 as my cousin's C64.   And the horror when I saw:

 

hqdefault.jpg

 

It is probably the worst commercial computer game ever made.  It was mostly written in BASIC with a few SYS assembly calls.  ARGH!!!!!!!

I learned three valuable lessons that day:

1) You can not return opened computer software

2) ALWAYS check pictures or reviews before spending money on any software

3) I needed to upgrade to a Commodore 64

 

--- hehe I never bought another Cosmi game the rest of life and note Forbidden Forest is one of my favorite games.  Argh Argh Cosmi made me an angry pirate!


Edited by thetick1, Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:00 PM.


#37 Turbo-Torch OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 16, 2018 4:43 PM

Definitely the DMP-110 printer I bought for my Model III.  It was $400 and boasted all kinds of fonts, graphic capability and near letter quality print.

The print was always horrible and after taking it in for service under warranty, they showed me the print quality on their display model was no different.  Also, ribbons were only available at Radio Shack which eventually discontinued them.  A while back I got a big stash of Radio Shack stuff off Craigslist and 6 new ribbons were part of it.  I reinked them and the 110 is alive and well again but with the same crappy print.

A few years ago I picked up a spare Model III off Craigslist for $25 and the guy also gave me a near new DMP-100.  I was really surprised at how well it prints considering it was a far older model...it's even battleship gray. 

 

Keep in mind that's a retro disappointment.  The few inkjet printers I've owned have been 10000X worse...the 110 has never failed to print and is still functional after 35 years.



#38 JamesD OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 16, 2018 4:49 PM

My biggest retro disappointment was getting Aztec Challenge for the Vic 20!  My Vic 20 was new and I was a naive young child.  My older and much richer cousin showed me Aztec Challenge on his C64 and it was just AWESOME!  So technically this is a hardware disappointment as I thought my Vic20 games would look almost as good as the C64 games. 

 

aztec-challenge.png

 

I quickly ran out and spent all the chore money I saved up for months to get Aztec Challenge for my Vic 20.  I just knew it would be awsome as the packaging was exactly the same for the Vic 20 as my cousin's C64.   And the horror when I saw:

 

hqdefault.jpg

 

It is probably the worst commercial computer game ever made.  It was mostly written in BASIC with a few SYS assembly calls.  ARGH!!!!!!!

I learned three valuable lessons that day:

1) You can not return opened computer software

2) ALWAYS check pictures or reviews before spending money on any software

3) I needed to upgrade to a Commodore 64

 

--- hehe I never bought another Cosmi game the rest of life and note Forbidden Forest is one of my favorite games.  Argh Argh Cosmi made me an angry pirate!

That is ugly even for the VIC20.



#39 Casey OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 17, 2018 2:49 PM

Here's an obscure one.  Back when the Sound Blaster 16 was a thing (back when I was in college), I bought a Yamaha XG MIDI daughterboard for it.  And I only ever found 1 website that had MIDI files that would take advantage of it.  It sounded great, but nothing ever used it.



#40 Keatah ONLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 17, 2018 4:07 PM

I had a similar issue with The WaveBlaster, CL's own branded daughterboard upgrade. I had to get my fix from BBS'es. For whatever reason, midi files seemed to get posted there first.



#41 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:07 PM

Definitely the DMP-110 printer I bought for my Model III. 

 

Ahhh PRINTERS!  I bet many here can relate to disappointments with them.  My first printer was a Epson MX-80 that was branded as a "Texas Instruments Impact Printer"  I had that thing going sometimes for stretches up to 8 hours straight.  When I upgraded, it was a big let down, the Epson RX-80 was supposedly a 'step up' being faster and a 24 pin model, problem was the dang thing would constantly overheat on long print jobs.  

 

What I really miss about those old printers was the price to feed 'em ribbons was small.  Nowadays four cartridges for the laser printer runs about $500.00 with tax.  

 

I totally agree.. INKJET PRINTERS SUCK THE SWEAT OFF A DONKEYS BALLS!  I'll NEVER... EVER buy another inkjet as long as I live.



#42 MrMaddog OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:58 PM

Since mobile devices were mentioned, here's my disapointments...

 

The first Android phone I had a decade ago by Samsung.  Can't use more than one finger on the touch screen least they get sued by Apple, had that thing replaced three times due to battery going bad & screen acting wonky and the Sprint reception became crap.  Yeah a tower fell down during a bad winter storm and they hadn't bothered to replace it.  I can't beileve Samsung i snot only still in business but actually "lauded" for their explosive Galaxy phones...

 

And a couple years ago I got an iPad Mini to jump on the iOS bandwagon, on my gosh...  Too uncomfortable to hold, WiFi never worked right and I couldn't even purchase anything from the App Store.  I ended up exchanging it for a Nexus 7 tablet at GameStop which worked a helluvba lot better till the micro USB port went out on it.

 

My lession was that mobile devices will NEVER replace computers in any way becuase of their limitations.  Nowadays I use phones & tablets in conjunction with my PC.  Phones are good for on-the-go stuff like social apps and tablets for portable media comsumption.  But I still do my serious work (and gaming) on my PC and relax with a Xbox on my flatscreen.



#43 vidak OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:07 PM

My fellow Atarians, you should do what I do and buy a laser printer and buy third-party toner cartridges. As far as I can tell, black and white laser printers don't need special toner. Come join me in the enlightened plane... *ascends into energy*

#44 Turbo-Torch OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:05 PM

Printers have always been a love/hate thing.  Next one I bought was a Star NX1000 II from a company I found in Computer Shopper back in 1989.  That printer was pure joy for 25 years and still had driver support through XP.  LQ print really looks like it came off an expensive typewriter.

Bought a really cheap Samsung Laser when prices came down years ago for $65 at Staples.  It's a very basic monochrome model but a workhorse.  Best thing about it is the toner cartridge has a fill plug on the side and no intelligent chip.  Pull the plug, pour about $2 worth of toner in it and it's good to go again.

About 2 years ago I bought a really nice all in one Xerox color laser printer.  Before choosing that printer I made sure aftermarket toner was available...entire set of colors can be bought for about $30 bucks.  So far I'm still on the original included toner and the gauges are only down 1 tick after a lot of printing over 2 years!

I do still use the Samsung for the majority of my b&w printing though.

The NX1000 has been retired to the closet, but it's still perfect when playing with something like the old IBM P70s from the same era.

 

I totally agree.. INKJET PRINTERS SUCK THE SWEAT OFF A DONKEYS BALLS!  I'll NEVER... EVER buy another inkjet as long as I live.

 

I got suckered with the next to free price on a few of them.  Print just a few pages and your ink levels drop drastically.  Have it self clean because you're getting streaks and it uses $30 worth of ink.

Don't use it for a few months and all the ink magically disappears!  I always suspected something was up when I'd hear them do stuff in the middle of the night for no reason.  Cleaning the nozzles (aka filling up the ink waste tank) is what they were doing.  Since the printer cost $20 and the ink is $50 to $60 it heads off to the landfill.  The cheap Chinese replacement ink is a waste of money as it ruins the print head within a week...and that's if the chip actually works, so it's a losing battle no matter what.

 

Laser printers do away with all those issues.  I really like how one can sit dormant for a year and then fire out a perfect print.



#45 eightbit OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:32 PM

Mine was (and I know a lot of people are going to hate me when saying this) the Atari ST. Particularly the 520STfm which was the first and only Atari ST computer I had purchased new. Funny story:

 

I originally had an Amiga 500. I loved it, but was curious about the Atari ST line and the looks of the machine in magazines looked really cool. It had the style of the Atari XE which I already had, but it was a 16-Bit rival to the Amiga 500. I wanted it, but didn't have enough money to get it. A friend locally offered to buy my Amiga 500 so I sold it to him for the funds and pretty soon my brand new 520STfm had arrived. I was looking forward to having some head to head "fanboy battles" with him....in my mind thinking the ST was going to creme that A500. Was I wrong...ohhh...was I so so soooo very wrong.

 

The graphics were...ehh...good. The Amiga was slightly better but the ST's graphics seemed doable. But the sound. Oh God...that shitty sound. It just ruined the experience. The Amiga sound was (and still is) very impressive. The sound on the ST was just crap. Sorry...have to be honest. It was utter crap. Atari did this with the 7800 as well. I guess some deaf guy was the person working on sound chips for their machines back then.

 

In any case, I tried to love it but couldn't look past that bad sound and graphics that were "almost there". I sold it at a loss and repurchased an Amiga 500. I still do not own an ST :)



#46 Keatah ONLINE  

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Posted Sun Feb 18, 2018 1:12 AM

At one time I wanted a 520ST or 1040ST. I never got one because of time and money. But I did go with Amiga later. Really, as much as rag on the Amiga, it all comes down to lack of software, over hype by some publications, and no one to trade software with. Otherwise it was fine.

 

On printers.. I remember I had an HP560, still have it. An Epson Photo 700, it died of a clogged head. An hp 970, it got ratbaggy and bulky and the cost was too high to purchase ink. I gave up on it after dicking with refill cartridges from CostCo. I currently have an hp7280 purchased in the 2006'ish time frame. Still working. I think it has to do with me printing a couple of pages every now and then.

 

I do follow a strict regimen of printing a test page once every month. Keeps it fresh. I also got lucky and found a Chinese distributor that sold me enough ink for 20,000 million billion pages. I suspect my ink supply will outlive it and the spare head I acquired.

 

Truth be told I have zero loyalty toward any inkjet printer manufacturer. The 7280 is the last one, all our other printers are laser already. And photoprinting? Baggghhhh! That crap started in the dotcom era. Like so much other nonsense. An experiment of throwing shit at the wall and seeing what sticks. The color gamut sucks, the ink smears, it's tedious editing and balancing colors. No consumer is going to put up with that for long. But some do till they learn their lesson of frustration. Just take your memory card to Target or wherever or send them in online.

 

If a manufacturer can't be respectful of their customers (by not gouging them on ink) why should we as consumers continue to buy their crap? I'm glad I'm off that bandwagon.

 

Another thing I dislike is the continual changes of model numbers and short support time frames. I enjoyed the stable and slower-evolving lineup of classic computers and the first PCs up to about the Pentium. Things changed at more modest paces. And any arbitrary model of computer might have spanned several catalogs over several years. Today what you see in Dell's catalog may not be in the next. And motherboard manufacturers - 2 years is a looonnnnggg time to support BIOS upgrades. A hint to do it yourselfers. Collect all the updates and documentation now while you can. In a couple of years it'll be gone.

 

This incessant need to change is justified to people by saying things like "continual improvement" and all that happy horseshit. If anything I see as many regressions as I do advancements.



#47 OLD CS1 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Feb 18, 2018 9:15 AM

I have to say I purchased an HP OfficeJet 8500 Pro in 2009.  This thing has been great for everything including really damn good photo prints.  In its old age it has started having a problem reverse feeding some paper types when scanning double-sided documents through the ADF.  It uses pigment ink which come in separate tanks for each color and the high-yield tanks are relatively inexpensive.  I have had it long enough to have replaced the print heads once, though I see I will need to replace the cyan/magenta head, again, and the scan head has developed a dead spot which results in a faded line on high-res scans.

 

For the almost ten years it has been in service I have more than recouped my $400 and I will actually be sad when it goes.  Supplies have been roughly on-par with my color laser, mostly because every 24 hours it performs maintenance including a quick clean of the print heads which consumes ink.  So far I have not found a modern equivalent in performance.  Its newer descendants are 1/3 the cost with commensurate quality of both print and longevity.



#48 Keatah ONLINE  

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Posted Sun Feb 18, 2018 10:05 AM

Inkjets with separate tanks for each color, and piping to manage the ink and bring it to the head via pump do tend handle the woes of the traditional cartridge + head in one. Gotta love that marketing, how they say replacing the head along with the ink always results in fresh printing. Eventually those spring contacts go bad because they cost-cut on the cradle design. .And marketing for refills say the ink tanks can be refilled. I've never had a refilled cartridge not leak. And marketing also doesn't say those cartridges come from other customer's printers, and thus may already be near end-of-life. It's all a big greedy scam.

 

Without the cheap ink from ebay, I'd have stopped using it long long ago.

 

I also dislike that pay-per-page subscription ink. That's just beyond micromanagement. Too bad someone got a $100,000 bonus for implementing such a mechanism.



#49 Casey OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:26 PM

Since we're on the topic of printers, back when I had a Commodore 128, the first printer I had for it was an Okimate 20.  It actually had amazing print quality.....   if you used the super slick paper that it worked best with.  Otherwise, the print quality was not fantastic, the thermal transfer ink ribbons were very expensive, and then one of the dots in the printhead went bad.  It was replaced with a much better Panasonic KX-P1180. 



#50 JamesD OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:06 PM

Ugh, I should stop reading this thread.  People keep reminding me of other disappointments.

My first printer was a Citizen MSP-10.  Awesome little printer.  Fast, excellent dual pass print quality.  Professors that said "no dot matrix printers" accepted it after I should them the output.
I even programmed custom control codes into my word processor (CoCo VIP Writer) for superscript, subscript, and italicised text.
But then Panasonic introduced a KX-P something or other (1123/4?) that supposedly had a 24 pin print head, a larger internal buffer, faster printing, different fonts, pitch setting, and a quiet mode.
I traded the MSP-10 in for it, and liked the Panasonic a lot...  until then the gears somehow skipped and got out of sync after passing out of warranty.
It never printed again. 

That was definitely more disappointing than the 3D card, or memory expansion.  I didn't own another printer for a long time.






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