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MrFish

Printers Used With Your Atari 8-bit: Then & Now

Printers Used With Your Atari 8-bit: Then & Now  

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  1. 1. Printer(s) used back in the day?

    • Atari 820
      4
    • Atari 822
      3
    • Atari 825
      2
    • Atari 1020
      18
    • Atari 1025
      14
    • Atari 1027
      21
    • Atari 1029
      11
    • Atari XMM801
      5
    • Atari XDM121
      3
    • Brother
      2
    • Canon
      2
    • C.Itoh
      3
    • Citizen
      3
    • Epson
      18
    • Hewlett Packard
      3
    • IBM
      0
    • NEC
      2
    • Okidata
      10
    • Panasonic
      23
    • Seiko
      2
    • Star Micronics
      35
    • Toshiba
      0
    • Xerox
      0
    • Other
      20
    • [None]
      9
  2. 2. Printer type(s) used back in the day?

    • Dot Matrix
      97
    • Daisy Wheel
      16
    • Thermal
      12
    • Plotter
      20
    • Laser
      4
    • Inkjet
      5
    • Emulated (APE, Etc.)
      2
    • Other
      9
    • [None]
      8
  3. 3. Printer interface(s) used back in the day?

    • Atari SIO
      71
    • 9-Pin Serial
      4
    • Parallel
      70
    • [None]
      11
  4. 4. Printer(s) used now?

    • Atari 820
      2
    • Atari 822
      2
    • Atari 825
      4
    • Atari 1020
      7
    • Atari 1025
      5
    • Atari 1027
      3
    • Atari 1029
      7
    • Atari XMM801
      6
    • Atari XDM121
      4
    • Brother
      7
    • Canon
      6
    • C.Itoh
      0
    • Citizen
      2
    • Epson
      15
    • Hewlett Packard
      13
    • IBM
      1
    • NEC
      0
    • Okidata
      5
    • Panasonic
      5
    • Seiko
      0
    • Star Micronics
      10
    • Toshiba
      0
    • Xerox
      0
    • Other
      14
    • [None]
      52
  5. 5. Printer type(s) used now?

    • Dot Matrix
      35
    • Daisy Wheel
      7
    • Thermal
      7
    • Plotter
      7
    • Laser
      16
    • Inkjet
      18
    • Emulated (APE, Etc.)
      16
    • Other
      4
    • [None]
      46
  6. 6. Printer interface(s) used now?

    • Atari SIO
      37
    • 9-Pin Serial
      2
    • Parallel
      26
    • [None]
      66


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What kind of printer(s) did you put to regular use with your Atari 8-bit computer back in the day, and what printer(s) are you using with it now?

I don't want to know how many printers you own(ed); I only want to know about the printers you actually use(d) -- but that includes even minimal use.

If you select multiple printers for either question, make sure you also select any various types and interfaces that go with each one of them.

A venerable "None" choice is available to ensure that everyone has a chance to be included.

I had an Atari XDM121 daisy-wheel printer back in the mid-eighties, which was used by my family for word processing and a variety of other tasks. I found it to be a great printer over the 5 years it was used (maybe more after I left home). It got 4 of my family members through college (at least the first two years for some) and printed out many a TBXL program listing. It printed nice and clear, with letter quality, and reasonably fast and quiet.

I also had a small thermal printer -- of a brand I can't recall -- which was used for printing graphics. I wrote a graphics driver in TBXL to enable printing of Graphics 8 bitmapped screens, and probably some other modes as well. I never liked that thin, curly thermal paper though, so it was used minimally. But at least it was a good introduction to working with printer codes on the programming side.

In recent years I checked eBay religiously in order to find an Atari XMM801 dot-matrix that had a cover with an actual Atari logo on it, and did not look like it had been used as a surface to do Exacto Knife cutting projects on, or had surfaced after the hurricane Katrina cleanup. I used it for a short time, but then needed to let it go when making my last move.

I currently do no printing with my Ataris, either directly or via emulation. I would like to pick up another dot matrix eventually, but maybe not another XMM801 as one in good shape is hard to come by. Although maybe the situation on eBay has changed since my last search in 2011/2012.

Edited by MrFish

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I got my first Atari 8-Bit, an 800XL, with a 1050 and a 1027. It was cool, but I soon realized I'd need something more. I borrowed a Panasonic KXP-1091i from a buddy who also had a Star NX-1000. Eventually he needed it back, however, so I ended up with an incredibly large and heavy Radio Shack printer. It was quite fast, however, so I dug it. The only things I really printed from were "Data Manager GT", "Envision", and "AtariWriter".

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Why is there no section for select what interface you used like 850 or any of the dedicated SIO to parallel interfaces ?

 

Also: there weren't any (consumer) inkjet and laser printers around in the early 80's right ?

 

My first one was a C.ITOH 8510 an 8 needle dot matrix which printed the deepest black I've ever seen on any dot matrix printer.

It was hooked up through a 850 (after they got dumped here for affordable prices). The printer was a used one from my dad's work. I struggled an entire evening to get the damn thing running and finally gave up.....kind of slamming the lid back on it...and off it went printing !!!!!

I didn't know it had a switch to detect if the lid was on !!!! To put things in perspective, in those days having a printer at home was somewhat like having a 3D printer at home today...,

 

I later got a Star NL-10 and even later a NEC P2200 24 needle but both of these I only used with my ST so I didn't include these in my vote.

Edited by Level42

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I still have my 1029 I bought from Compumart at the Spring 1987 Atari Show, minus the top cover which I think my wife threw out during a house move 5 years ago.

 

Since then, though, I picked up another boxed 1029 for nothing from Amibay.

 

I used my 1029 a lot back in the day for printing out program listings and some general printing, such as the manual for Omnitrend's Universe. These days I don't do any printing on the 8-bit.

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Why is there no section for select what interface you used like 850 or any of the dedicated SIO to parallel interfaces ?

 

Because I wasn't interested in breaking things down to that level for the interface. People are welcome to put any additional details they'd like to talk about when they post.

 

 

Also: there weren't any (consumer) inkjet and laser printers around in the early 80's right ?

 

"Back in the day", to me, means all the years that Atari was an active and viable platform. It tapered off in the early nineties, but some even used them well beyond that. So I didn't define "back in the day" on purpose, since that'll mean a different span of years to each individual, which may include use of a laser or inkjet printer, for all I know.

Edited by MrFish

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ICD Printer Connection with Star LC10 followed by Canon BJC-200 then. Same set up now, used infrequently, minus the noisy dot-matrix.

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the noisy dot-matrix.

 

Yeah, but you can't beat those "noisy" dot-matrix printers for making you sound like you're REALLY busy when they're banging away. :D They're also the classic printer for printing out ASCII portraits.

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Started out with a 9-pin EPSON FT-80 (probably even heavier than the 800) which was later upgraded with a NLQ module allowing printing in a darker font with serifs. Sadly given away when I thought I would not need any Atari printing and needed space. This was a real tank, quite fast and used with the ST as well. On the 800 it was connected by APEFace which was quite temperamental and often required unplugging to work.

 

I now have a 1029 which my son uses for listings but the quality of the printouts doesn't match the Epson. I also got a Canon BJ-200 which I plan to use with my 800 (mainly chosen for small footprint and after having given away two in the early 2000s.)

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P:R: connection with a parallel cable to a panasonic dot matrix printer. for the life of me I can't recall the exact model. single sheet feed, and bottom-fed tractor feed. It worked awesome.

 

can't exactly remember what happened to it. it became unimportant when I bought the HP LaserJet III for the Amiga. May have given it away or it was stolen by the movers (along with my stereo and volksmarching trophies) when I left Germany.

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Started with 1027 and just loved the print quality. American Technovision IIRC had a sale on XDM121 for 49.99 and just couldn't resist but hated the short ribbon life. Soon after that I saw a real dot matrix get busy with an Atari driving it and wound up snagging a second hand store Star NX-1000 for $15 and got a Microprint parallel adapter for it. It had one pin that didn't work on the right side of the page and I noticed it had been well used, got to noticing a teeny spot on the flat head cable that laid over flat when the head was on the right side. Put down some electical tape right under where that spot was and picked up the missing pin. Have had a couple of NX-2400 series since then - I keep wearing them out. Used to be giveaway price on Fleabyte, but it's rare these days to even see one. After I learned (PBS kids show of all places) that in the dark ages Gutenberg had used oil and lampblack for his ink and the oil soaked wooden press blocks were surviving into this day and age and still usable, I cooked up some and gave it a try, haven't looked back since as it's way better than what you can buy. A little bit chunky at first but lasts twice as long as store bought re-inking ink which I did have to try eventually just for comparison's sake. Start with your favorite engine oil and start mixing in the lampblack (fireworks supply) until you see a viscosity change then moderate that with a little bit more oil, thick is NOT the way to go. Need to mix forever in order to get the chunks worked down and a small motor helps bunches there.

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I had many different printers back in the day that I used. Everything from the ker-chunk ker-chunk 820 to the XMM-801, a Star NX-1000c (Epson JX-80 compatible).

Now, I still have a 1025, but mostly use APE to print to a big Dell (made by Lexmark) network laser printer.

 

That brings up a question: Has anyone found a setting to make APE completely transparent for P:? No cr-lf conversion, nothing. I want to play with graphics, and I need to send all 8 bits, unmolested to the printer.

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I never could afford a printer back when the Atari was my only computer. A friend of the family gave me an 820 printer, but it died after a few weeks. When we got out first PC in 95, we had a colour inkjet - some Cannon model. To me, it was the coolest thing I had ever owned. I now keep a Panasonic KXP-2135 hooked to my Atari at all times, through an MPP 64kB print buffer. I print out tons of SDX documentation, and messages when I am BBSing.

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In the days of the 400/800 the printers that physically matched the system the best were the Panasonic KX-P1080, KX-P1090, & KX-P1091. The "i" variants of those models had the IBM character set built in. The non "i" models potentially allowed you to upload the Atari ATASCII special characters. Somehow, I never got around to trying this feature, but it had the potential to be a "Super Atari 1025", for sure.

 

 

These were great printers, with mechanics on par with industrial robotics. The manuals were well-written, and covered all aspects of programming the device, even going to such lengths as to show circuit diagrams of the various components. The printers were parallel, by default, however, RS-232 option boards could also be installed.

 

 

 

The ribbon cartridges were a really great design. They were simple to replace, but it was rarely necessary, since they could easily be opened, to re-fill. It used a sponge, and I refilled them with "Speedball" Brand "Lamp Black" ink.

 

 

No 400/800 system should be without one of these... They perfectly matched the 400/800 color scheme, and the look, with the dark plexiglass was as "80's Ultra Modern" as it gets.

 

These printers used actual physical buttons with switches with tactile feedback, not cheap membrane switches. The CHR$(7) result on these printers could easily be used for an alarm clock, ha. Had a lot of fun programming these things, back in the day. I just checked, and the manuals are still available, on Panasonic's website.

 

 

Here's an ebay shopping link for finding these great printers.

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Lovely Epson RX-80 with graphics mode. Wrote custom driver using joystick ports and custom ribbon cable. Wrote ANTIC/GTIA emulator screen capture utility called PRANTIC. Great fun!

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Mostly I used an Epson LX-800 and I seem to recall an ICD printer interface.

 

I also picked up a used Atari 1027 which I used extensively when I needed letter quality, something the LX-800 was not very good at.

 

Most of my office application work was done using Mini Office II. I also used the First Xlent Word Processor.

 

Today I use an HP Deskjet 5550, which even though it is now quite old, still delivers excellent print quality.

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Lovely Epson RX-80 with graphics mode. Wrote custom driver using joystick ports and custom ribbon cable. Wrote ANTIC/GTIA emulator screen capture utility called PRANTIC. Great fun!

 

Sounds interesting. Can you elaborate on what you did here?

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One of my favorites was a Nissho NP2410 wide carriage dot matrix.... Turning that thing on was like listening to a jet take off. Fast too. Alas, it became nearly impossible to find ribbons.

 

I did enjoy having a HP Deskjet on my ST, but for the 8-bit it was the old Star SG-10 (and recently I acquired the color printer version but haven't had a chance to play with that yet).

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PRANTIC reads the display list and interprets every scan line as ANTIC and GTIA would. It builds up a buffer of dither patterns depending on the luminence of each pixel and then prints when the buffer reaches 8 dots high. It uses the OS shadows because most graphics registers cannot be read. For that reason it cannot emulate PM graphics. Also it does not do DLIs.

 

I wrote multiple versions. One in BASIC XL to prove the concept, a full-featured version in assembly, and one in Action! for an interview for a C language job. Oh, also a version for LOGO which included the turtle PM graphics because those were shadowed in LOGO itself.

 

I'll have a look for the code.

 

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PRANTIC reads the display list and interprets every scan line as ANTIC and GTIA would. It builds up a buffer of dither patterns depending on the luminence of each pixel and then prints when the buffer reaches 8 dots high. It uses the OS shadows because most graphics registers cannot be read. For that reason it cannot emulate PM graphics. Also it does not do DLIs.

 

I wrote multiple versions. One in BASIC XL to prove the concept, a full-featured version in assembly, and one in Action! for an interview for a C language job. Oh, also a version for LOGO which included the turtle PM graphics because those were shadowed in LOGO itself.

 

I'll have a look for the code.

 

Sounds like a good way of making things work in a universal manner. That would be great if you can find the source code.

 

It would also be interesting to know how you had it wired up.

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My first printer was a Mannesmann Tally Spirit 80. It was a dot matrix printer that was one of the first to have square pins. It made the text look a little sharper. Tractor fed, fan fold. I want to say I paid about $350 for it back in 1982.

MannesmannTallyMT80_small.jpg

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Sounds like a good way of making things work in a universal manner. That would be great if you can find the source code.

 

It would also be interesting to know how you had it wired up.

 

I'll post the PRANTIC stuff in a new thread.

 

The homebrew parallel printer interface was simply a ribbon cable going from joystick ports 2, 3, and 4, to the printer's parallel port. PORTB supplied 8 data bits, PORTA 1 strobe bit, and TRIG2 1 busy bit. Here's the code:

0100  .TITLE "EPSON MX-80 PRINTER HANDLER by Claus Buchholz"
0110 PORTA=$D300
0120 PORTB=$D301
0130 PBCTL=$D303
0140 PACTL=$D302
0150 TRIG2=$D012
0160 BRKKEY=$11
0170  *=$600
0180  LDA $09
0190  ORA #$02
0200  STA $09
0210  LDA #INIT&255
0220  STA $02
0230  LDA #INIT/256
0240  STA $03
0250 INIT LDA #VECTAB&255
0260  STA $31B ;MODIFY DEVICE TABLE
0270  LDA #VECTAB/256
0280  STA $31C
0290  LDA #$38 ;DIRECTION REGISTER
0300  STA PBCTL
0310  STA PACTL
0320  LDA #$FF ;ALL BITS OUTPUT
0330  STA PORTB
0340  LDA #$80 ;TOP BIT OUTPUT
0350  STA PORTA
0360  LDA #$3C ;DATA REGISTER
0370  STA PBCTL
0380  STA PACTL
0390  LDA #$80 ;HI STROBE, ZERO DATA
0400  STA PORTA
0410  LDA #$00
0420  STA PORTB
0430  RTS
0440 OPEN LDY #$01 ;OPEN-CLOSE ENTRY
0450 NIMP RTS ;UNIMPLEMENTED FUNCTION
0460 VECTAB .WORD OPEN-1,OPEN-1,NIMP-1
0470  .WORD PUTBYTE-1,NIMP-1,NIMP-1
0480  JMP INIT
0490 PUTBYTE CMP #$9B ;CARRIAGE RET?
0500  BNE BUSY
0510  LDA #$0A ;PRINTER CR CODE
0520 BUSY LDY TRIG2 ;BUSY SIGNAL
0530  BEQ CHK1 ;JUMP IF NOT BUSY
0540  LDY BRKKEY ;BREAK KEY FLAG
0550  BNE BUSY
0560  LDY #$80 ;BREAK KEY ABORT
0570  STA BRKKEY ;CLEAR FLAG
0580  RTS
0590 CHK1 LDY TRIG2 ;CHECK BUSY AGAIN
0600  BNE BUSY
0610  SEI ;DISABLE IRQs
0620  STA PORTB
0630  LDA #0 ;DROP STOBE
0640  STA PORTA
0650  LDA #$80 ;RAISE STROBE AGAIN
0660  STA PORTA
0670  LDA #$00 ;ZERO DATA
0680  STA PORTB
0690  CLI ;ENABLE IRQs
0700  LDY #$01 ;PUTBYTE SUCCESSFUL
0710  RTS
0720  .END

My cable is long gone, probably converted for my ATR-8000.

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I'll post the PRANTIC stuff in a new thread.

 

Sound like a good idea.

 

 

The homebrew parallel printer interface was simply a ribbon cable going from joystick ports 2, 3, and 4, to the printer's parallel port. PORTB supplied 8 data bits, PORTA 1 strobe bit, and TRIG2 1 busy bit.

 

Initially I was going to have a selection of "Other" for the interface category. But I had high doubts any other ports were used. Anyway, the poll basically comes out as nailing down what kind of port was required coming from the printer side. I'm not too surprised you're using the joystick ports though, since we've also got hard drives that were hooked up to them, and other capable devices. It continues to show the versatility of these ports.

Edited by MrFish

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From my rusty memory, a Mannesmann Tally (Spirit 80?) printer with an MPP SIO to Parallel interface adapter. Remember tractor feed anyone? :)

Edited by atx4us

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