the non-existence of printer collectors

Chuck Guzis cclist at
Sat Jan 26 21:58:18 CST 2008

Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2008 20:24:36 -0500 (EST)
From: djg at

> Those old line printers had such a nice impressive sound. At least looking
> back and when you will be doing short printouts on a classic computer.
> When you had to listen to it all day not so good.

There is no way that I would want to own and operate a CDC 501 (drum) 
or 512 (train) printer.  Changing the ribbon, even with the provided 
gloves was a messy job (who knows if ribbons could even be found 
anymore), and when one of those ribbons got tangled up in the 512 
type train, it was an hours-long incredibly messy job digging the 
bits and pieces out.  Inevitably, you'd find that you'd assembled the 
type train with a character swapped here and there. 

The old drum printers tended to suffer from the wobbly line syndrome, 
where characters would be displaced from a straight line in a 
vertical direction.  On the other hand, the train printers, while 
creating nice straight lines, would often displace characters in a 
horizontal direction.  The former was far more noticeable than the 

In the mid 70's, my lusted after personal printer was one of 
aftermarket Teletype model 40(?) band printers.  About 300 lpm, I 
think and basically a tabletop unit, usually sold in an acoustic 
enclosure.  Print quality was pretty good (upper- and lowercase), 
unless you printed a lot of dumps, whereupon the '0' would get kind 
of fuzzy after awhile.  I still have a copy of the OEM manual for one 
of these if anyone's interested.

I briefly had a Diablo dot-matrix printer--the carriage servo could 
crush your hand if you were stupid enough to put it in the wrong 
spot.  An incredibly noisy screaming demon of a boat anchor.  I got 
rid of it while I still had my hearing.


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