View Full Version : Okidada 120 Printer: Will it work with MS-DOS?

April 18th, 2017, 11:43 AM
After a long hiatus I'm starting to play around with my old MS-DOS computers again and am having a lot of fun with them. So I'm hunting around for a printer to hook up to my DOS system. On eBay I found an affordable dot matrix printer, but the name of it -- Okidata 120 For Commodore Computers -- makes me wonder if it would even work with MS-DOS.

Also, it uses a serial cable to connect to the computers. I can't recall ever having a had printer that used a serial cable, not even in my CP/M days:

http://i1355.photobucket.com/albums/q708/Clueless_in_Seattle/Okidata%20120%20Serial%20Printer%20Cable_zpsuclggo il.jpg (http://s1355.photobucket.com/user/Clueless_in_Seattle/media/Okidata%20120%20Serial%20Printer%20Cable_zpsuclggo il.jpg.html)

So, does anyone here know if I would be able to get this printer to work well with MS-DOS?

Will in Seattle
a.k.a. "Clueless"
Running MS-DOS 6.21

April 18th, 2017, 11:56 AM
You'd be waaaaaaaay better off with a standard parallel printer for DOS work.

I'm not sure you could get that particular printer to work on a DOS machine without adapting it (if you even can adapt it).

I have several parallel printers available but shipping to the left coast might take the affordable part out of the equation. :-)

April 18th, 2017, 01:01 PM
Is it possible to get the Okidata 120 printer to work with MS-DOS? Referring to the manual (http://chiclassiccomp.org/docs/content/computing/Oki/Okidata_120_Commodore_Handbook.pdf), I'd say"yes", but it would require something to adapt the interface. An Arduino could do this, or you could write your own printer drivers.

But, as Stone says, it's more trouble than it's worth.

April 18th, 2017, 01:59 PM
Have you looked at RE-PC in Seattle? They always seem to have several dot matrix printers in the AS-IS section for less than it would cost to ship one from anywhere. They also usually have some tested dot matrix printers available, but those aren't that cheap.

April 18th, 2017, 02:09 PM
There certainly were RS-232 Serial printers.

Cabling was cheap and simple, especially for long runs, and quite a few systems did not even have any 'standard' parallel ports; Radio Shack even used a 5-pin DIN plug similar to the one shown for some of their computers/printers instead of the more common DB-25 connector.

However, in the Commodore world a "serial" interface is something completely different and completely incompatible without some kind of protocol converter; it is actually a Commodore-specific serial version of the IEEE488 parallel protocol:

So, no, I wouldn't bother with it; you should have no trouble finding a printer with a standard parallel or RS-232 interface. However, note that many of the newer (and cheaper) inkjet and laser printers will not work with DOS since they rely on Windows or equivalent to create the actual dot patterns to form the characters.

Remember also that in the DOS world there are no system-wide printer drivers as there are in Windows, and each application had to supply its own driver for anything more than just plain text. If possible, try to find a printer that can emulate an Epson MX-80 which was as close to a 'standard' as you'd find in those days; most printers could emulate it and most software had drivers for it.


April 19th, 2017, 04:21 PM
Thanks for all the replies, folks! And for confirming my suspicion that my trying to get that Okidata 120 to work with my MS-DOS computers would likely be opening a can of worms.

And, special thanks to gslick for jogging my poor old unreliable memory and reminding me that RE-PC has a store right here in Seattle. Somehow I thought they were way the heck down by the airport. I'd completely forgotten about the Seattle store. I'll head on down there next week and look for a printer with Epson MX-80 emulation (Thanks MikeS!)

This is a great group!

Will in Seattle
a.k.a. "Clueless"

April 19th, 2017, 05:10 PM
As a postscript, I'll add that "Is it possible?" covers a lot of ground--and much depends on your level of desperation. I imagine that it's "possible' to take a Canon CX laser printer engine and work out an interface to get it to work. But not something that I'd find worthwhile.

My first "real" printer was a Diablo Hitype with the 12-bit OEM interface. Did I get it to work with CP/M? Sure--but I was desperate for a good printer. The driver involved logic-seeking and bidirectional printing and took up a couple of K of memory.