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discgolfer72

options for printer on classic computers

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soooo I have fond memories of the Garfield paint programs and print shop on the apple2 and commodore

 

I used to make all my own greeting cards and other funny things

 

 

is there an option for classic computing that will allow the use of a modern printer either using real hardware or emulation

 

 

from my little research it seems the apple emulators do not support printers

 

 

if I have no options for using emulation or real hardware using modern printers

 

what would my best route be with a original printer

is ink available still what about the old paper (at a reasonable price I can screw around and let my kids make funny stuff)

 

what's the best one that would work with several of my old computers (ti,c64,apple2) or do I need one for each machine

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Interesting question, and one that I had rarely considered before. For some of the older matrix printers, there are spare ribbons to buy but not all models. Some parts might be possible to refurbish.

 

Redrumloa connected his C64 to a Centronics interface and then a laser printer. It takes four minutes to send the data to print one page, but it can be made to work. I'm not sure if the Turbo Chameleon 64 does anything in this mix other than speeding up the C64, providing VGA output and acting as a memory card storage device.

 

 

In theory you should be able to get similar interfaces for most older computers, though software support might differ and you might need another form of interface to go from e.g. Centronics to USB or network, a type of device that I don't know if it even exists.

 

I see that there are some projects using a Raspberry Pi or an Arduino as a printer (interface). This one seems to capture text printed from the C64 into a text file, but I'm sure it could be adapted to capture graphics data as well, then some conversion to get a format that a modern printer accepts. Nothing ready made to plug in and use though.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yN0GcdVQ6zk

In the land of Commodore emulation, it appears to me that e.g. WinVICE outputs a file called viceprnt.out that may contain text and/or graphics depending on how you configured the emulator. Then there is a standalone program called VICEtoPS that tries to convert the output to a PostScript file which you can send to a printer supporting PostScript or distill with GhostScript etc to get a PDF. There is also a program called VMPS801 that generates a series of PNG images out of the viceprnt.out file. However I've never tried either method, so I can't answer subsequent questions about those and why it doesn't work as expected.

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Interesting question, and one that I had rarely considered before. For some of the older matrix printers, there are spare ribbons to buy but not all models. Some parts might be possible to refurbish.

 

Redrumloa connected his C64 to a Centronics interface and then a laser printer. It takes four minutes to send the data to print one page, but it can be made to work. I'm not sure if the Turbo Chameleon 64 does anything in this mix other than speeding up the C64, providing VGA output and acting as a memory card storage device.

 

 

 

In theory you should be able to get similar interfaces for most older computers, though software support might differ and you might need another form of interface to go from e.g. Centronics to USB or network, a type of device that I don't know if it even exists.

 

I see that there are some projects using a Raspberry Pi or an Arduino as a printer (interface). This one seems to capture text printed from the C64 into a text file, but I'm sure it could be adapted to capture graphics data as well, then some conversion to get a format that a modern printer accepts. Nothing ready made to plug in and use though.

 

In the land of Commodore emulation, it appears to me that e.g. WinVICE outputs a file called viceprnt.out that may contain text and/or graphics depending on how you configured the emulator. Then there is a standalone program called VICEtoPS that tries to convert the output to a PostScript file which you can send to a printer supporting PostScript or distill with GhostScript etc to get a PDF. There is also a program called VMPS801 that generates a series of PNG images out of the viceprnt.out file. However I've never tried either method, so I can't answer subsequent questions about those and why it doesn't work as expected.

hmmm thanks for the info ill research some more and see what I can come up with

 

its kind of a interesting idea

and I'm kind of surprised there is not more info out there its surprising with all the other homebrew kits and such no one has designed a usb printer interface

I guess everyone emulates/buys hardware just for the games lol

 

 

lol

ask and you shall receive

 

guy brought a lot of stuff in the store to sell today and bam these were in the mix lol now hopefully one works (crossing fingers its the trs 80 one lol)

post-63035-0-34564600-1516822649_thumb.jpg

post-63035-0-08377500-1516822680_thumb.jpg

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Generally speaking, old printers have been the lowest rated vintage computing gear for years. Even a complete in box MPS-801 or similar for a long while was impossible to give away at expos, despite no additional shipping costs were involved. Possibly the interest has been increased lately as every other item of computing has become desirable. Old floppy drives and other means of storage are cruicial for operation, whether it is for games, running a BBS or doing any form of serious work done. Connecting a printer can be fun every now and then, but generally very few users have a need for hard copies these days, which probably is why the topic is less discussed and evaluated.

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I just came across this topic - and you might be interested in my own forthcoming Retro-Printer Module - www.retroprinter.com

This is a hardware solution which captures centronics printer data and converts it to PDF and will output it to a modern USB printer if you wish.

This is currently at the factory for final production of the module and case so we are hoping to have it available for sale in July.

If you are looking for just the conversion routines, we have released the ESC/P2 conversion routine on https://github.com/RWAP/PrinterToPDFso that this can be improved. It handles most ESC/P2 codes (unlike the various ESC/P conversion routines available on the internet).

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I got an Epson Actionprinter 4000 on ebay for $10... You can set it up all the way down to an RX/FX/MX-80 via dip switches. All you need is a centronic interface for your old computer, again cheap... Ribbons are also available and cheap as those printer are still used in business for printing carbon backed forms and bills.

 

In fact the box of fanfolded printer paper cost me 4 time the price of the printer.

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Generally speaking, old printers have been the lowest rated vintage computing gear for years.

 

Apple II Emulator Virtual ][ 8.3 offers a good emulated dot-matrix output. It is the up and coming Apple II emu. It already outclasses Applewin.

 

But, yes, emulation support for printing is about as low a priority as finishing Astrocade emulation. Printers are like disk drives. They're hated peripherals and emulators would drop support of them if at all possible.

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For a long time, I could not understand how my printer works and each time I searched on the internet for information about it but it was complicated to understand everything. Anyway, I managed to clarify every time an error occurred. After reading palmger review about printers for the cardstock I bought one like this and I love how it works because I can use it for many project ideas and I am happy that I made such a choice of the printer because it is extremely useful and it makes my life much easier.

Edited by Halian

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*has an old HP pen plotter-- It does not care how thick the paper is, only how wide the paper is*

 

I have modified the housing (by cutting a channel in it) so that I can use tall, disposable felt-tip pens in it (with a 3D printed pen holder).  You have to use something like inkscape with it, and tell it to plot it-- but it will totally draw with the pen you have selected, and draw line art on cardstock.

 

Makes for a very interesting effect.

 

(It is kind of a shame to desecrate such a device in this way, but finding the pens is impossible.)

 

 

(not my video, btw. I just did the same thing, and designed MY OWN collet)

 

Those plotters are serial based, and use an RS232 connection. They speak a printer language called HPGL, which is kinda-sorta similar to post-script.  It defines strokes, lines, and curves. They CAN be used on a windows computer using a USB->Serial cable, and a buyware driver.

 

In theory, with that setup, you can print even from MSWord if you want.  Just be aware that it is NOT a raster printer, and cannot print jpegs and stuff. It can only do vectors.

Edited by wierd_w
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On 1/24/2018 at 1:40 PM, discgolfer72 said:

I guess everyone emulates/buys hardware just for the games lol

Yes. Printers and modems are completely neglected. And seem to remain that way well into the future.

 

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3 hours ago, Keatah said:

Yes. Printers and modems are completely neglected. And seem to remain that way well into the future.

 

Personally I really like old modems. They're fascinating. I do like printers, but really, they take too much space for what they are. I mean, you can use a modem for BBSes, but no one's gonna type up and print their homework or report on their TRS-80 Model II in 2021.

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I purchased one of the last USB/Centronics laser printers. It has FX-80 emulation so my limited selection of vintage system have a chance to print should it be needed. 

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7 hours ago, bluejay said:

Personally I really like old modems. They're fascinating.

And mysterious. Feeding in audio frequencies from those RadioShack project kits and makeshift antennas was how I conducted my own make-believe SETI project back in the day. That modems work in the audio range was key. But I didn't understand it all till 81' - 82'.

 

Still have my D.C. Hayes MicroModem II and AppleCat II (with all accessories). Love the colorful discrete parts on both pieces of the MMII.

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The Retro-Printer module is proving quite popular to offer an option to either print to PDF or print to a modern USB / Network printer - www.retroprinter.com

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1 hour ago, Keatah said:

Still have my D.C. Hayes MicroModem II and AppleCat II (with all accessories). Love the colorful discrete parts on both pieces of the MMII.

So, figured out how to hook them up to your fancy emulation setup yet?

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I think very early laserjets ( like laserjet II and III) could do it..  dont quote me on that, I would have to double check, but I seem to recall them being able to do a subset of the epson codepage.

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Yeah... the earlier HP Deskjets used special cartridges for Epson emulation, same ones used for adding fonts, which made them useful on 8-bit computers.

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The 500/560/600 series you mean?

---

I just got a HP2225C, its as vintage an inkjet you can get. Parallel, dip switches, manual for IBM PC, with a section on Apple II. Love it!

Edited by Keatah

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On 2/23/2021 at 4:49 AM, bluejay said:

So, figured out how to hook them up to your fancy emulation setup yet?

I didn't bother with those, as they're bus/slot connected. Beyond my programming experience. But the serial (aluminum ingot) Hayes SmartModems can be connected to some emulators.

Edited by Keatah
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5 hours ago, Keatah said:

The 500/560/600 series you mean?

---

I just got a HP2225C, its as vintage an inkjet you can get. Parallel, dip switches, manual for IBM PC, with a section on Apple II. Love it!

 

No, I mean Laserjet III

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I have been looking into printers as well. What I want to ask about are thermal printers. Do they necessarily need thermal paper, or is there some mechanism by which they print onto ordinary typing paper or accordion tractor paper as well?

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@discgolfer72: Congratulations on one heck of a find/giveaway. The Epson FX is pretty much the standard dot-matrix printer for the time. Lots of other printers emulated it. The TRS-80 Daisy Wheel II is moderately rare and quite expensive to ship.

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I'm too lazy. Anyone care to briefly highlight the differences between Epson MX and Epson FX?

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