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MHaensel

Connect a modern computer to a Radio Shack/TRS-80 printer?

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I don't have a retro TRS-80 printer yet, but one is in my future, either a daisy wheel or a dot matrix (Line Printer or DMP). I'd like to connect it to my 2020-era laptop. It would be fun to output from a modern computer to one of these heavy-duty beasts.
 

 

A USB->Centronics adapter gets me most of the way there. Do I need a card edge adapter or something for early printers, or were they standard Centronics ports?

Edited by MHaensel
Added "it would be fun"

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I believe that they all used Centronic based connectors. Card edge would usually be for the computer. Like the TRS-80 Model I/III/4 for example. Some Dot Matrix Printers and Daisy Wheel printers used both Parallel/Serial connections. Okidata still sells DMP printers today. Although, you will have to look at their website and see how they connect to modern PCs. I have a DMP-130A printer for my CoCo. However, I have never attempted to connect it to my Windows based laptop. If you have a printer in mind, you probably can find the manual to it at https://archive.org

 

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Would the absence of driver software be an issue? If memory serves, there is a "generic" printer driver under Windows, but that may just support basic text printing -- no fonts, bold, underlining, or other features of the printer. 

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You just need to find DOS software to use it. Nothing much could be done from Windows. I mean, it will print the text from Notepad or something, but nothing much beyond that.

 

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Windows XP still had drivers that supported my Star NX 1000 which was made in the 80s. It printed out everything from tax forms to web pages nicely.  

 

I bet it's doable if you find a printer that has Epson or IBM compatible modes. Most from mid 80s supported both and were selectable with dip switches.

 

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3 hours ago, jhd said:

 

Would the absence of driver software be an issue? If memory serves, there is a "generic" printer driver under Windows, but that may just support basic text printing -- no fonts, bold, underlining, or other features of the printer. 

 

Yes, this could be a major issue.  The OEM's of many of the TRS-80 line of printers were not all the same if memory serves.  You may have to try many different printer drivers to even find some basic compatibility.  Good luck!

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If I recall correctly, IBM made some mistake when implementing their first Centronics interface, so there is a slight difference with the "original" spec, which became the only way it was done afterward. So watch out for that.

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