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Thread: Printing from Vintage PCs with modern printer.

  1. #1

    Default Printing from Vintage PCs with modern printer.

    I've been think about this for awhile, but can't seem to find much through google so i figured I'd talk about this here.

    I like many of us here have alot of Vintage PC's, but what i don't have is any vintage printers, and to be perfectly honest i don't really want any.

    Unless I found something like a genuine vintage IBM Printer for free, I really don't wanna take up space with retro printers.

    ANYWAYS the point of what i'm asking: is there any way to print from a vintage computer with an LPT port to a new USB or network printer?

    not even necessarily directly. If a newer windows computer could somehow capture the LPT output of the older machines, then the newer machine could talk to the network printer no problem.

    is that possible? I have to admit i know basically nothing about the parallel/ LPT interface and how it works but I am reading wikipedia etc while bored at work.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    There's an outfit:

    https://www.retroprinter.com/

    That sells a parallel port shield that sticks onto a Raspberry Pi-style computer and can capture LPT output and convert it in various ways. (It can strip plain text, emulate an Epson or PCL printer, etc.) That's a simple plug-and-play solution.

    I've been thinking of trying to set up something like this myself using serial instead of parallel, just for for laughs. (Since serial ports are standard and don't require any hardware other than a null modem cable) I've been using a serial Applewriter II printer with my Tandy 1000 for laughs because it's the only old-school printer I have lying around that works; using a serial port instead of parallel poses some minor inconveniences but most software will work, and some of what doesn't allow direct configuration for serial will work if you use MODE to redirect LPT1 to COMx. The parallel port capture device above uses various open-source pieces to do its work (including the Epson protocol translator) so in principle it probably wouldn't be that hard to just tinker it together. Haven't actually gotten around to it yet, though.
    My Retro-computing YouTube Channel (updates... eventually?): Paleozoic PCs

  3. #3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by pinkdonut666 View Post
    ANYWAYS the point of what i'm asking: is there any way to print from a vintage computer with an LPT port to a new USB or network printer?
    Can't your vintage computer see the 'shared' network printer?

    Quote Originally Posted by pinkdonut666 View Post
    not even necessarily directly. If a newer windows computer could somehow capture the LPT output of the older machines, then the newer machine could talk to the network printer no problem.

    is that possible? I have to admit i know basically nothing about the parallel/ LPT interface and how it works but I am reading wikipedia etc while bored at work.
    Have you tried... 'Print to File'? You could then use that file to print from another machine.
    PM me if you're looking for 3" or 5" floppy disks. EMail For everything else, Take Another Step

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stone View Post
    Can't your vintage computer see the 'shared' network printer?
    I assume the OP doesn't actually have a network on the vintage computer in question.

    In principle at least if you can capture print jobs to a file then can print them to a printer that supports simple TCP port print job submission by using nc.exe from the mTCP suite. even on an 8088 PC with a network card. This is assuming that the printer is capable of making sense of the output from your program, of course. Off the top of my head I don't know of any software that can automatically redirect lpt1 to a file under pure DOS. Not saying it doesn't exist, just haven't seen it. * EDIT: A somewhat awkward recipe for capturing LPT output to a file and redirecting it to an LPR protocol network printer under DOS for a PC with a supported packet driver.

    Obviously if the computer is capable of running more modern software then you could, for instance, use the network capabilities of Windows for Workgroups 3.11 to create virtual LPT ports and send printer output to a Windows printer share. At this point, though, you'd probably need to set up a SAMBA server or older Windows version as an in-between for sharing the printer, and there's still the matter of driver compatibility. (Many? Most? network printers can still at least do rudimentary PCL emulation, though, and Postscript is still out there too.)
    Last edited by Eudimorphodon; February 19th, 2020 at 03:32 PM.
    My Retro-computing YouTube Channel (updates... eventually?): Paleozoic PCs

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Default

    Well, the only good way to print those Print Shop banners is with a tractor feed printer and continuous form paper.

    One can never have too many printers! But if you had to choose one for "vintage" use, I'd just suggest an Epson printer (IBM graphics printers are rebadged Epson MX 80s and were were also rebadged by many others) and perhaps share it with a printer port switch box.

    For any 9x era stuff an later, networking is the way to go. There were LPR clients and generic drivers for most printers.

    DOS can use printer networking as well, although networking clients like MS Lanmanager are pigs.

    Non-PC stuff would require something completely different.

  6. #6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SomeGuy View Post
    Well, the only good way to print those Print Shop banners is with a tractor feed printer and continuous form paper.
    I've got plenty of both of those.
    PM me if you're looking for 3" or 5" floppy disks. EMail For everything else, Take Another Step

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stone View Post
    Can't your vintage computer see the 'shared' network printer?
    Because my IBM 5150 is going to be on my home network...

    I'm talking XT and 286 hardware which is the majority of my PC collection.

  8. #8

    Default

    mTCP?
    PM me if you're looking for 3" or 5" floppy disks. EMail For everything else, Take Another Step

  9. #9

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Eudimorphodon View Post
    There's an outfit:

    https://www.retroprinter.com/

    That sells a parallel port shield that sticks onto a Raspberry Pi-style computer and can capture LPT output and convert it in various ways. (It can strip plain text, emulate an Epson or PCL printer, etc.) That's a simple plug-and-play solution.

    I've been thinking of trying to set up something like this myself using serial instead of parallel, just for for laughs. (Since serial ports are standard and don't require any hardware other than a null modem cable) I've been using a serial Applewriter II printer with my Tandy 1000 for laughs because it's the only old-school printer I have lying around that works; using a serial port instead of parallel poses some minor inconveniences but most software will work, and some of what doesn't allow direct configuration for serial will work if you use MODE to redirect LPT1 to COMx. The parallel port capture device above uses various open-source pieces to do its work (including the Epson protocol translator) so in principle it probably wouldn't be that hard to just tinker it together. Haven't actually gotten around to it yet, though.
    this actually sounds like exactly the sort of thing I'm looking for! if only i wasn't a total n00b who has less than zero experience with Raspberry pie and arduino stuff -_-

    I really appreciate the link and i will have to look into setting it up

  10. #10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by pinkdonut666 View Post
    Because my IBM 5150 is going to be on my home network...

    I'm talking XT and 286 hardware which is the majority of my PC collection.
    My 5170 is definitely on my home network. That’s how I get files to a computer with a 360K floppy drive the easiest way.

    I think someone here rewrote the 3com 3c509 drivers to work on 8088 too, so there isn’t any reason your 5150 couldn’t be on the network too.

    But you can still get printers with parallel ports. Just google new printers with parallel ports and you’ll find a few.

    I’ve got a Laserjet 1300, which while not new by any means, doesn’t really count as vintage either. It’s got a modular port that can add parallel, Ethernet, or even WiFi to compliment the usb that I actually use most of the time.

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