For older readers, here's some more old stuff to get misty-eyed about.
*Crash!* "Oh, I'm terribly sorry, I appear to have accidentally nudged it off the table" I say, as tears well up in the owner's eyes. "I've had that since university!" he gasps. "I didn't think they made 150 DPI scanners in the neolithic era – or had scanners," I sniff. "It was perfect," he wails, dropping to his knees …
Ooh yes, I remember those, the Dataproducts version at least. We had two; an upper-case-only one which did 600LPM and one which did both upper and lower case at 300LPM. The latter didn't have room on the drum for a space character, so I had to hack the VMS print symbiont to convert space into a non-printing ASCII code.
Both made a distinctive sound when printing VMS banner pages, so the operator always know when one job had finished and the next started.
On that page you linked to, right below the LP05 there's a photo of the LP25 which, as Computerworld of March 31, 1980 notes, was "a 285 line/min band printer that features programmable read-only memory (Prom) band control and self-diagnostics. The LP25 is priced about 39% lower than its predecessor". But could it mutilate anyone, accidentally or even deliberately? I think not! Bah.
In all seriousness, though, the real beauty on that page is a couple of spots above the LP05 — the HP 82143, a compact, tabletop thermal printer that interfaced to the HP-41 calculator. (Or "hand-held computer", as HP had already begun to pretentiously style them by 1981.) Yeah, you had to keep it supplied with cash register rolls, and the output had all of the typical thermal-printing drawbacks, but it was still a marvel for its time.
I'm using an (old model) IBM model M keyboard at work which uses a DIN connection. You have to use one converter to change this to a PS/2 and then another to convert to USB to allow me to plug it into a modern computer.
The keyboard is older than the newer entrants to the workplace, and it does more useful work.
I'm using one from a Tandon 286 on my home PC. I prefer the positive feel of the old keyboards, you really know when you've pressed a key, and the weight keeps them from sliding around the desk. The kids say it's too much exercise. It's really easy to avoid the PS2/DIN converter by wiring in an old mouse cable.
Why not an IBM 1403 model N1? One of those would run rings around a LP05.
Plus, the N1 model had an auto-cover-raise feature, to let the operator know when it was out of paper. That did wonders for people who stacked printouts on top of it, along with the stray cup of coffee or soda. ;-)
Somewhere in the Midlands, in what by now is probably a desirable live/work conversion, there is an old Victorian iron pillar with the upper-case alphabet plus numerals stamped in a spiral around it.
One day an engineer, either hung over or on a promise, did a rush job of inserting a custom character in the print chain (not drum in this case). Now IBM issued special sets of graduated fractional-ounce torque spanners so this job could be done properly, but they weren't used. On test the chain snapped, came straight through the printer casing and wrapped round said pillar, with the results described. Fortunately the engineer was not in the way - the chain would not have slowed measurably if he had been.
I'd forgotten about bursters - jeez - I used to take home the cylinders of carbon paper and saw them up to fuel our solid fuel boiler!
Humm ... I suspect that Simon is beginning to lose the plot.
The interface for an 11/780 would have been a fairly standard Unibus one (almost certainly a variant of the LP20 controller family) and was widely used on PDP-11's before the advent of the VAX range, so it would hardly have been rare at any time so even now probably not a collector's piece.
In any case, like virtually any external peripheral from that era, the LP05 wasn't built by DEC (modified certainly, but OEM'd in almost all cases) - the LP05 was a Data Products device with a new coat of paint.
Yes, mine's the duffle-coat with the DECUS Large Computing Group SIG pin on the lapel ... Thanks
"even better if a burster had been involved"
Or a multi carbon splitter - all those lovely 'sandpaper' covered rollers. Ah, many's the happy moments I spent, wondering where the skin had gone from my fingertips. And screaming, of course. The days when technology had teeth and claws.
We even had a compo going to see who could crank it up so the central column og carbon paper hit the ceiling!
Thanks for giving this to us on Friday... but after the article earlier this week, I'm wondering if I shouldn't just go sit on the grass with a beer and wait...
I still hoard toothbrushes. After I'd used one to lovingly defuzz a drum you wouldn't want to use that toothbrush again. But the print would be so sharp afterwards! Strangely though, the same people who wanted me to clean the drum for the improved printing wouldn't want me to touch the paper after that - blue/black fingers - so shift end was quiet for me, just tickling the holes in the digits and caressing the drummmmm......
I bought a mech keyboard BECAUSE it came with a PS2 (though it does also work off the USB as well if required) and with the proper old school clicky keys because thats how I roll.
If Simon wants I'm sure the company I did work experience at years and years ago still has a telex machine kicking round (it was an engineering company so prone to throwing things out only when there's money in it).
As for hording.. I admit I only stick to vintage amplifiers and the like.
I am typing this on a proper clicky keyboard that is probably older than I am. From the days before AT became standard and long before it was re-ditched for PS/2.
I will change my personal keyboard when I get my modded keyboard finished. I am happy to report I seem to have finished all of the hacksawing. What I really need now is to get on and bag the arduino kit for the next stage...
It's attached to a Prime. Both it and the Prime still work.
My cell phone is more powerful than the Prime and can print to an Epson WF-3540 which gives better output, faster, and quieter and much better looking, than the drum printer.
We still have to use the Prime for a 'legacy' application, written in FORTRAN and assembler a long time ago. One day someone will have to replace it, except that the guy who wrote it retired 15 years ago and no-one still at the company wants to touch the code.
I've seen setups like that. In fact, punted the app into a Virtual Machine. Oddly vax runs well in vm. No idea why. The only hard part was getting the storage connections working over the virtio paths. We didn't have to get it printing though.
"We still have to use the Prime for a 'legacy' application, written in FORTRAN and assembler a long time ago. One day someone will have to replace it, except that the guy who wrote it retired 15 years ago and no-one still at the company wants to touch the code."
How did Y2K not slay that beast!?! Was it actually coded to properly handle 21st-Century dates? If so, I'm suitably impressed, but you'll probably have to dump it by 2038 when the 32-bit UNIX epoch rolls over. There's no way that code is using a 64-bit time_t.
A clients high speed line printer* had stopped working. Back at the office I discovered that someone had spilled coffee (or possibly Coke) into it and not told anyone. I took out the motherboard and rinsed it under the tap while getting the crap loose with a paintbrush. When it was dry I found that the sugar in the coffee had eaten through one leg of a little capacitor. One replacement £0.50 cap. later and it was working again. We told the client that it was knackered and would cost a fortune to fix. I did a deal with my boss, he got the high speed printer and I got a little Epson dot matrix that would actually fit in my house. Plus some cash of course!
*It might have been an Oki
"Now the second engineer only has to come out after another 4 hours, there's no death of engineer penalty clause, (but I'm thinking about asking for one) so I've got to fill in some time. This guy's going to be a technical engineer, the sort that comes in with a raggedy tie where he got it caught in the drum printer at 3000 rpm a couple of years ago, and he'll have the grazes on the face that indicate that he didn't get the gate open in time...
I know those sorts..."
"I hang up - he'll call back. Meantime I open up a copy of "VMS BASTARD OPERATORS MANUAL FROM HELL" I'm reading the article I sent in about getting rid of those trouble users...
"... Modify the user's password minimum from 6 to 32 letters, give the password a 1 day lifetime, set it so that they HAVE to use the password generate utility when they change their password (so their password will always be something that looks like vaguely pronouncable line-noise), add a secondary password with the same as the above, then redefine their CLI tables so that the only command that works is DELETE, and all other commands point to it."
Beautiful. Shit I'm good."
Dems was de days,
We set one boss's login to start a homebrew 6502 emulator, with MSFT BASIC preloaded. Of course, quitting BASIC logged him off. Another boss's custom setup added an "Are you sure?" prompt to every command, but the humor was lost on him, even when it asked of he was sure about that DIR command.
What a lovely end to the week.
Approx. 180db at over 3metres..!!
The bosses toothbrush was always useful to clean the drum before the month end invoice run.. Having replaced it... one hung-over morning the boss didn't notice.. LMAO..!!
Or better still the PFY used one of the directors clothes brush.. No you cannot get the ink out of a white Armani suit...
And with 2 going the print room was so damned loud you could creep up on anyone!! Oh what fun.. Especially when its you 'favourite' bean counter waiting for his URGENT report..
Anyone ever hit the BBS and print the ASCII naked woman... Early porn.. caught the boss at this for his buddies once.. what a laugh...
Well done... what a classic.. !! almost as good as the cattle-prod episode.. My boss used to read CW.. specifically the BOFH to see what I'd been up to.. Coincidentally I'd just wired the helpdesk weirdo's desk with a Taser and remote triggered it after lunch.. Nearly got caught..
None of this silly DEC stuff. Of course my work wasn't on IBM stuff either. The drum printer I used was a nice XDS 7440 beast (oem'd from NCR). You could hear that thing get loud when it printed a line of $'s at the end of the job.
We replaced it (it was leased) with a slower chain printer that "kinda" worked. I programed it to pint the chain sequence and the hammer force opened up the printer gate, stopping the printer. I didn't do that too often. Now I have a Centronics B300 printer which works quite nicely.
Of course there is the 1132 printer (also EBCDIC) that was slow as molasses and only a 48 character set. We printed out pictures from the TV camera. It was a long time ago.
I saw one of these when i was 15 at my local council when i was doing work experience...
And the noise
Oh Crap that means i was the PFY.....
Seem to remember wondering why they had the johnny cast away screen saver installed....
Did spend a good 2 weeks copying Amiga games though lol... (Onto ICL branded disks)
I would be a hoarder if I had a drum. I would mount it on a plaque to remind me of the hours I would have to spend cleaning one with a toothbrush and isopropyl. (I worked for a Uni and isopropyl was like water in the science dept).
Stuck in a room with a Printronix P600, another DEC (possibly) band printer and no hearing protection at all. I knew I wasn't going deaf because I could still hear the seeks of the Twin 8 inch floppies the students used to backup their data.
But I loved that drum.
Ah! brings back memories... You could alter the page length via some dip-switches and 11 2/3" paper was almost A4. If you printed a whole line of the same character, underscores at the top and bottom of a table perhaps, then the thing would make a hell of a noise and nearly leap of the floor. Star-trek and naked ladies were fun to do... found a whole heap of them once in RP06 disk archive of a retired software guy.
We got a bunch of DECUS tapes in one time, and one of them has Fortran Carriage Control pictures in it. One of the programmers showed me the basics of it and another one of them had recently bought a scanner that slipped over the carriage of an imagewriter (or whatever the cheap(?) Mac dot matrix printer was).
I scanned several pictures (the only ones I really recall were ones from the Blues Brothers Souvineer Songbook), kermitted them to the VAX, and wrote a program to convert them to FCC.
THEN someone suggested I read up on Fourier transformations.
I have no idea of how many ribbons I went through, late at night when noone was looking, but they were nice dark pictures...
when it ate my tie - had to wait until security came wandering around the building for the fourth time and looked in at the window! Fortunately the off button was just within reach or I would have had a tattoo of a microchip on what would have been left of me. Amazingly over-engineered bit of kit.
Well, colour me disgusting then.
I still have a scar on the back of one hand from a burster and my place of punishment still use those LA36 printers.
Ah, the big ribbons.... we used to re-ink those at one place. That was always fun, but it saved a lot of money (not that we ever saw any of it).
All in all... it's beer time even on the weekend.
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