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Thread: Laser Printer as accelerator?

  1. #1
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    Default Laser Printer as accelerator?

    It's been said many times in the past that the early laser printers had compute power equal to or better than the host machines that they were connected to. Were there ever any attempts made to harness this extra power for applications other than printing?

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    When you mean early do you mean xerox PARC stuff from the late 60's early 70's or do you mean the IBM 3800 series from the 70's? Or are we going back to the original hp laserjet from mid 80's? ( I wish I kept mine! but that thing was huge)

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    Any hardware really. I'm not familiar with much beyond the early Apple and HP lasers.

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    the early Apple lasers ARE Hp lasers, they are the same as the hp LJ II and III series, same parts in most cases. I used to do minor service to hp II III and the apple ones (apple laserwriters? maybe that was thier name) at my first IT job.
    I owned the original HP laserjet, it had a funny model number even though it was the first,, and it only had serial communication. Big units, real workhorses, they would still run fine today if you had one. Only drawback was 300dpi up until the hp LJ4 series.
    I didnt mind, I had an HP Lj IIP because it was smaller for years, sad I gave it away.

    Wells they have logic boards, they have RAM. They have IO and expansion bays. I think they were RISC based. I dont know what you would do with them. modern laserjets have far more advanced computer systems in them. Ill agree they were smarter than dot matrix or daisy wheels of the time.

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    Don Lancaster published a bunch of material about using the Postscript engine in laser printers back in the day. Perhaps a search on his name and the subject might yield results. Basically, the idea was that a laser printer with a 68K CPU was capable of more processing power than an 8088 4.77MHz PC.

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    Hmm interesting stuff. I see the argument, but we are talking postscript engines were necessary to interpret and rebuilt the code. That was almost all of what the cpu was doing. Hypothetically you could expand upon the system and implement new IO and Bios and talk to it and make it perform other tasks. The only reason would be just to say you did. It would be reinventing the wheel as there are already a couple decades worth of other devices that could do that too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by VERAULT View Post
    the early Apple lasers ARE Hp lasers, they are the same as the hp LJ II and III series, same parts in most cases. I used to do minor service to hp II III and the apple ones (apple laserwriters? maybe that was thier name) at my first IT job.
    I owned the original HP laserjet, it had a funny model number even though it was the first,, and it only had serial communication. Big units, real workhorses, they would still run fine today if you had one. Only drawback was 300dpi up until the hp LJ4 series.
    I didnt mind, I had an HP Lj IIP because it was smaller for years, sad I gave it away.

    Wells they have logic boards, they have RAM. They have IO and expansion bays. I think they were RISC based. I dont know what you would do with them. modern laserjets have far more advanced computer systems in them. Ill agree they were smarter than dot matrix or daisy wheels of the time.
    I could see how it might have been tempting to use them to manipulate large datasets where it would have been much slower on the host machine. Presumably there was some way to inject your own program for them to execute rather than being stuck with what's burned into EEPROM.

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    A coworker at a previous job said that most of his master's papers were structured so that anything that could be offloaded to the PostScript engine in the printer, was. I'd imagine at the time he was using a 386 or 486 for his work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by glitch View Post
    A coworker at a previous job said that most of his master's papers were structured so that anything that could be offloaded to the PostScript engine in the printer, was. I'd imagine at the time he was using a 386 or 486 for his work.
    So he has a process to utilize the postscript engine at the time, or he developed a process?

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    Quote Originally Posted by VERAULT View Post
    So he has a process to utilize the postscript engine at the time, or he developed a process?
    Wasn't clear, I don't work with him anymore so I can't follow up, but from the story he told, he was having the PostScript engine in the printer do calculations that ended up coming out in the printed document because the printer was faster at doing it than his desktop was.

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