Color Dot Matrix; Was Re: IBM junk

Jeff Walther trag at
Tue Oct 23 14:49:54 CDT 2007

> Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2007 23:26:06 +0100 (BST)
> From: ard at (Tony Duell)

>> The 5182 is a dot matrix printer with a four color ribbon. Kludge on a
>> stick.
> Thet idea was not uncommn at the time. DEC made one called the 'LA324'
> which could take a colour ribbon and mechanically shifted it up and down
> to change colour. I also rememebr using an Epson printer in the mid 1980s
> that could take a 'colour kit' which was a motor + mechanical bits to
> tilt the ribbon.
> How well it worked I don't know. I've never been able to find a colour
> ribbon for my LA324.

The Apple Imagewriter II can use a color ribbon and the color ribbons are
still fairly available.  I have a few boxes sealed up in plastic bags...

However, Apple never wrote a viable color driver for the Mac OS.  One
could print the 8 basic Quickdraw (not Color Quickdraw) colors, for
example, by coloring cells in Excel and printing the spreadsheet, but
anything complex was out.

A company called Microspot wrote MacPalette II for the Mac which dithered
the colors on the ribbon to provide 24 bit color printing.

Keep in mind that the IWII is a 72 or 144 dpi dot matrix printer.  The
images produced by MacPalette are pretty amazing given the underlying
printer.   It really does get the colors nicely mixed.  The image quality
is poor because of the poor resolution, but it's a bit like the dancing
bear.  The wonder isn't that she dances so well, it's that she dances at

I always get really poor text quality with MacPalette II though, so if
anyone else is using it and knows what I'm doing wrong, let me know. 
IIRC, MacPalette II only prints in Tall Adjusted, so many the poor text is
just an artifact of that, or maybe one is meant to use different fonts.

I think the IWII has the engine for another printer in it but I can't
remember whose.  I keep dredging up Okidata and Canon, but I think those
are wrong.  Citizen?

Jeff Walther

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