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IBM PC Compact Printer

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    IBM PC Compact Printer

    Printers often don't get documented as well as computers, but this one really seems to be obscure. (If you Google today you can't even find a picture of it.)

    I have corrected the injustice:

    http://brutman.com/PCjr/pc_compact_printer.html


    Fun note - the graphics sample that I used came from a file called 'PAGODA.RLE', which is an old RLE file I picked up from my BBS days. I had a BASIC program that could display it on the screen. To get the printer output I wrote a C program to read the file, convert it to a bitmap, and then create a binary file with the printer codes for this specific printer. Now I can print my 25 year old RLE files!

    (Does anybody else have RLE files laying around?)


    Mike

    #2
    Cool! Could you zip up the RLE program you made and any RLE file(s)? That'd be a fun thing to do on my Sr. Partner, which has a built-in thermal printer.
    More commonly known as "Yushatak" - www.yushatak.com
    Focused on 486 and Pentium Machines
    I collect All-In-One PCs and Keyboard PCs, especially Compaq.

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by Raven View Post
      Cool! Could you zip up the RLE program you made and any RLE file(s)?
      If you google for "PAGODA.RLE" you can find a download page that has a zip of some RLE files.

      Having read this thread, I was inspired to write cistopbm, which will convert between CompuServe RLE and the Portable Bitmap format used by NetPBM. And thence, by the power of NetPBM, to just about anything.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Raven View Post
        Cool! Could you zip up the RLE program you made and any RLE file(s)? That'd be a fun thing to do on my Sr. Partner, which has a built-in thermal printer.
        Is the printer semi-Epson compatible? The compact printer uses ESC 0 and ESC K for the graphics.

        I need to clean the code up a little bit - it was a late night hacking session for me to prove that the printer can do graphics. (The technical reference clearly says that it can't.) I should be able to get you something in the next day or two though.


        Mike

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by JohnElliott View Post
          If you google for "PAGODA.RLE" you can find a download page that has a zip of some RLE files.

          Having read this thread, I was inspired to write cistopbm, which will convert between CompuServe RLE and the Portable Bitmap format used by NetPBM. And thence, by the power of NetPBM, to just about anything.
          Ah, I made the mistake of searching without the quotes. I also had a terrible time finding the RLE specification - my old BASIC code was easy enough to port to C, but I was hoping to find the formal spec before I started. I did - after I was done. I found the same page you have linked. It's probably time to make a snapshot and hide it. It is surprising to me that it is not documented in other places. Compuserve RLEs were traded before the GIF and before the masses got Internet access, so they are pretty obscure.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by mbbrutman View Post
            I found the same page you have linked. It's probably time to make a snapshot and hide it.
            cistopbm includes a brief summary of the format. Most of the RLE files I tested it against don't seem to follow the formal spec terribly well; they omit the end-picture signature, or include fewer pixels than there actually are. Even PAGODA.RLE contains runs of 95 pixels where the spec recommends 94 as the maximum.

            Oh, and googling for "esc g h" rle finds a few other mentions of the format.
            Last edited by JohnElliott; July 5, 2009, 08:10 AM. Reason: Added the last line.

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              #7
              ... and there are also some RLE files on the CP/M CDROM, in the enterprs/c64/gfx directory. Including a few that cistopbm won't handle, because they have junk before the ESC G H header.

              Comment


                #8
                I had noticed the extra characters before the official signature when I wrote the BASIC program back 20 years ago. I attributed it to people doing some form of ASCII download. The file format uses printable characters (except for the ESC) character, so this would have been possible.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Several ones on the CP/M CDROM have what looks like a 117-byte binary header, which contains an approximate file size, the original filename, and a lot of zeroes.

                  Anyway, I've fixed cistopbm so it can handle them all.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    I have no idea how the thermal printer works in the Sr. Partner, it is integrated with the machine physically, so it just "works", no matter what DOS you boot, there are no drivers or etc.. It's support might be built into the illegal BIOS the machine carries, hehe...
                    More commonly known as "Yushatak" - www.yushatak.com
                    Focused on 486 and Pentium Machines
                    I collect All-In-One PCs and Keyboard PCs, especially Compaq.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Nah, the printer has its own intelligence. (They didn't start going completely stupid until the Windows 9x era.)

                      The printer has it's own small CPU and firmware that tell it how to talk to the computer, how to print characters, and how to print graphics (if it is capable of that). Normally the printer prints the text that it receives. If you want the printer to do something special such as print using boldface, change to compressed characters, subscript or whatever you send it special 'ESC' codes that the printer interprets and acts on.

                      Like Hayes was to modems, the Epson codes are to printers. Many printers are Epson compatible at some level. We need to find out what your printer is capable of emulating.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Hello!

                        Could you help me, please?

                        I would like to know in which year this printer was available for the first time in market.

                        Thanks!

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I remember a very neat and compact HP thermal printer or inkjet printer that we used in our research labs around 1988. I can't remember what it is called though- and googling for 'HP Printer', well....

                          Does anybody have a clue? They were using tractor feed, but the printer was not much wider than the paper, a small square box.


                          By the way, should I start making pictures of my Oki 192 and IBM Graphics Printer? I'm afraid I dumped my Seikosha GP100 years ago, how stupid.
                          (*remembers still wants an HP7574 plotter...)
                          “Thus, we see that one of the obvious origins of human disagreement lies in the use of noises for words.”

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by javixu View Post
                            Hello!

                            Could you help me, please?

                            I would like to know in which year this printer was available for the first time in market.

                            Thanks!
                            1983 or 1984.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by Jorg View Post
                              By the way, should I start making pictures of my Oki 192 and IBM Graphics Printer? I'm afraid I dumped my Seikosha GP100 years ago, how stupid.
                              (*remembers still wants an HP7574 plotter...)
                              I think there are still a billion IBM Graphics Printers out there, so don't worry too much about it. The Oki's were very nice printers too, but I haven't seen one in 15 years.


                              Mike

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