Print about printers. (evaluation) (column) John J. Anderson.
An anecdote. Before this column became a column, it was the second installment of a printer round-up. Someone here told me that C. Itoh had called, and in the article I kidded to be sorry it had not been Mr. Itoh himself--for I would have liked to ask him what the C stood for.
From San Francisco, Mr. Philip . Huang: "I read with great interest your article... in which you mentioned that you would like to know what the C stands for in C. Itoh... C. Itoh is a major trading company in Japan. The C stands for 'Chu,' which literally means 'loyalty' in Japanese. In this case, Chu was the given name, and Itoh was the surname of a person. . . perhaps the founder of the company, which was established in 1949."
Fascinating, Mr. Huang, and thank you. Now what does the C in your name stand for? SuperScripsit Feedback
More from the mailbag. This letter is from Barton Hendrix, of Oakdale, CA, though we have received more than one letter along these lines:
"As one who uses a TRS-80 Line Printer VI with SuperScripsit, I was anxious to read Ted Byrne's article on the subject in your June 1983 issue. I hoped that it would contain some new ideas to play with. To say the least, I was disappointed. Mr. Byrne devoted his article to explaining how he wrote an auxiliary program to set pitch and line spacing on his printer before loading SuperScripsit. Didn't he read the program documentation?
"SuperScripsit uses the Daisywheel II driver to operate the LP VI and, as a result, there are some functions that do not operate exactly as intended. However, the program does provide for 20 user-programmed 'printer-code' keys. They allow the inclusion of special character codes. If the character width is set at zero, these keys work equally well to change line spacing or pitch. There are, however, a few things to keep in mind
"* Whenever the LP VI receives a control code to change pitch or line spacing it will begin a new line at column 0. For that reason you cannot mix two pitches in one line. You should not include text between control codes and a carriage return.
"* The driver remains unnotified if and when the pitch is changed within a document, and so margins and tabs must be adjusted accordingly.
"* The LP VI is not cooperative about accepting anything other than single-spaced lines through the Open Document Options. However, if you consider that you can select 6,8, or 12 lpi through user-programmed keys and select single-, double-, or triple-spacing via a block action, it offers considerable flexibility.
"* With the LP VI SuperScripsit counts whole lines at 6 lpi, so it may be necessary to adjust page specifications if the printer is set to 8 or 12 lpi. Bear in mind that the program allows a maximum of 99 lines per page. For that reason you should not use the narrower line spacing unless it is absolutely necessary.
"I do agree with Mr. Byrne that the LP VI is a sturdy, versatile printer. It simply requires a bit of creativity to make full use of its capability. With careful work at 12 lpi, it will even underline. The only things I have not been able to get it to do easily are those functions which normally require a reverse paper feed (such as subscripts and superscripts)."
In another letter J. Spence of Denton, TX, posits that Mr. Byrne was using an older version of the program. Spence is now using an LP VIII and Daisy Wheel II, but wrote his own program two years ago to get around the control code problems.
The control codes he is now using appear as Figure 1, the CRT version as Figure 2, and the printed results as Figure 3. Hope this helps some of you Scripsit users out there. New Hardware
Two new dot matrix printers are on the way from Panasonic. The KX-P1160 can reach 165 cps in pica, 196 cps in elite. It can handle 15" paper, in fanfold or single sheet. An optional front inserter is available to friction feed single sheets to the printer.
The printer comes with a parallel interface standard. An RS-232 serial interface is available as an option. This model lists for $1750.
The model KX-P1090 can handle paper widths up to 10" and reach speeds up to 96 cps. It also features sprocket or friction feed. The suggested retail for the unitis $550.
Both printers use a seamless catridge ribbon. For more information contact Panasonic, One Panasonic Way, Secaucus, NJ 07094. (201) 348-7183.
Smith-Corona is following its original TP-1 with the TP-II daisy wheel printer. The SCM TP-II features both serial and parallel ports, selectable 10 or 12 pitch character sets, self-test switch, and new printwheels with program characters. This simplifies printing Basic listings.
The TP-II incorporates several enhancements to its predecessor. Baud and parity DIPs are easier to set. Reversing polarity of the busy signal has been simplified, as have controlling linefeeds and carriage returns. An optional tractor feed feature has also been introduced to allow use of continuous form paper.
The list price of the unit is $900. For more information, contact Smith-Corona, 65 Locust Ave., New Canaan, CT 06840. (203) 92-1471.
Tandy has released a new $500 dot matrix printer capable of printing at 120 cps. The DMP-120 is code-compatible with all other Radio Shack printers, with the exception of some word processing codes (such as parts of SuperScripsit).
The graphics mode of the unit allows creation of almost any graphics configuration needed. For more information, contact Tandy/Radio Shack, One Tandy Center, Fort Worth, TX 76102. (817) 390-3300.
Transtar has released its own model 120, but this, in contrast is a $600 daisy wheel printer. The unit provides letter quality print at 16 cps. With an automatic paper loading system, cut sheets can be positioned with the touch of a button. Tractor feed is available optionally. The unit has a Centronics parallel interface.
For more information contact Transtar, Box C-96975, Bellevue, WA 98009. (206) 454-9250. That's the Spirit
The Spirit-80 is the latest entry from Mannesmann Tally, the people who brought you the MT-160 printer (given a rave review in the June 1983 issue). The Spirit-80 is their low-end entry, with a list price of $399 with standard Centronics parallel interface.
While it is not in the same class as the MT-160, it is much less expensive and has many features of more expensive machines. Compared with other machines in its price range, the Spirit-80 looks very good indeed.
At a printhead speed of 80 cps, the unit is capable of multiple fonts in extended, normal, and compressed modes, including italics. In compressed mode, up to 142 columns are available. The unit can handle superscripts and subscripts, and has a graphics mode offering resolution of 640 dots per line.
The printer can accept continuous form or single sheet friction feed. Up to three carbon thickness can be supported. Mannesmann claims a mean time between failures of over 5 million lines (excluding printhead life). The printhead is rated at approximately 30 million characters.
A large part of the speed of a printer can be judged by the linefeed speed. The linefeed time of the Spirit-80 is approximately 0.02 seconds--very quick for a $400 machine.
No graphics duty cycle is imposed, but guidelines are provided within the documentation so that a user can create duty cycles for his own use. Under normal conditions, however, none are necessary.
The documentation itself is much less impressive than that accompanying the model MT160, with less organization, more typographical errors and ambiguities. At one point the Spirit-80 is described as a serial-type printer, because the matrix printhead impacts the paper in a serial fashion. Jeepers creepers. People who have just bought a parallel printer may be a bit startled upon reaching that point of the documentation.
I have had the Spirit-80 in heavy use for about three days now, and have been very satisfied with its performance. The type quality is very good (see sample) and the paper feed is exceptional. A white wire paper guide keeps incoming and outgoing paper from ever crossing paths. And unlike most printers you will encounter, the tractors engage before the paper goes around the platen. This may seem like a trivial consideration, but I am convinced it helps lessen the potential for jamming when wrinkled or torn paper feeds through. It is a design feature well worth imitating.
The unit a relatively heavy clear plastic cover, which helps lessen noise. I have seen printers at three times the price with much flimsier covers. Another classy move from Tally.
Overall, the noise during operation is quite tolerable. It is no ink-jet, but you don't need to turn it off to talk on the phone.
The large buttons on the top front of the Spirit-80 select and deselect on-line operation, as well as line and form feeds. LEDs indicate on-line, ready, and "paper out" conditions. There is a "paper out" buzzer, that can be deselected as a DIP switch setting.
Top of form is set at whatever point the printer is turned on. To reset it, turn the printer off, advance the paper to the top of form, then turn the printer back on.
The cartridge ribbon is very easy to replace, and an extra cartridge is supplied along with the unit.
The Spirit-80 is another strong entry from Mannesmann Tally, and helps to round out its microcomputer product line. It is also quite a handsome machine--one of the best-looking new printers around.
For more information contact Mannesmann Tally Corporation, 8301 South 180th St., Kent, WA 98032. (206) 251-5500. Delectable Dumpling
If you own an Apple and have been following our discussion of print buffers, make a note to learn more about a company called Microtek. We have been using their Dumpling-64 card in one of our Apples for months now, and it has faithfully performed as a parallel interface card, graphics printer card, and 64K buffer--a versatile product, to say the least.
If you already have or do not desire the buffer aspect of the Dumpling-64, you can buy the Dumpling-GX, which has all the interface features of the spooler, minus the spool. The card can drive any 8-bit parallel printer.
For more information contact Microtek, Inc., 9514 Chesapeake Dr., San Diego, CA 92123. (619) 569-0900.
Until next time, keep your ribbon inked, and may all your perforations be little ones.
Products: Panosonic KX P1090 (computer apparatus)
Panosonic KX P1160 (computer apparatus)
Radio Shack DMP120 (computer apparatus)
Transtar 120 (computer apparatus)
SCM TPII (computer apparatus)
Mannesmann Tally Spirit 80 (computer apparatus) devices