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... To print them out, I had to change the type thingie in the printer to one that had the correct characters (umlaut, etc.). if I recall correctly the type disk was flat and round, like a wheel with many spokes.
That would be a daisy wheel printer. They produced the best looking printouts before laser printers were invented.

The one notable exception was the IBM Quietwriter. Available either as a printer or a typewriter, it was a unique kind of thermal-transfer dot matrix printer that produced very high-quality output and was very quiet. (Here are some images of the typewriter version, in case you're curious.)

Back when I was in high school, the office had a Quietwriter (and its optional sheet feeder accessory) attached to its computer (an IBM PC/AT). I was extremely impressed, given the fact that every printer I had seen prior to then was either 9-pin dot matrix (loud and low resolution) or daisy wheel (louder and text-only).
 



We had DEC equipment at my old place of employment. At some point, our office department retired their IBM Selectric Memory Typewriters for DECmates. The DECmate must have been the first computer (if you can call them that) that I used. I remember very little about using it, but I did a number of papers for my German classes on them. To print them out, I had to change the type thingie in the printer to one that had the correct characters (umlaut, etc.). if I recall correctly the type disk was flat and round, like a wheel with many spokes. I am thankful to be able to say that I long ago got rid of the 5.25” floppies on which I stored those papers. I’m guessing this was in the early 80s.
Ah - Daisy wheel printers. I loved the quality of them - especially if you used a carbon ribbon and good "bond" paper. My first real job was managing a departmental VAX system (11/750 & 8200) with about 50 terminals attached via terminal servers. (all 10Mb ethernet) and we had a couple "Agile A1" daisy wheel printers (actually these were also 300bps serial terminals).

Good old days.
 


That would be a daisy wheel printer. They produced the best looking printouts before laser printers were invented.

The one notable exception was the IBM Quietwriter. Available either as a printer or a typewriter, it was a unique kind of thermal-transfer dot matrix printer that produced very high-quality output and was very quiet. (Here are some images of the typewriter version, in case you're curious.)
I used one of those Quietwriters. They were wonderful machines, they made a little hiss as the print head moved along the page, and that was it. The output was nicer than that of the Selectrics, and worlds ahead of the Royal manual typewriter (full size, not portable) I used at home. One advantage was not having single-use plastic ribbons! The nicest looking output of the printers of the day, in my opinion, beating those early (and almost equally slow) LaserJets and LaserWriters.

Most printers at the time, whether dot matrix or QuietWriter had their own internal fonts and couldn't print what wasn't programmed in already. The typical printer was a cheap dot-matrix (both Epson and Oki were very popular), quite loud and low-resolution. Apple's dot-matrix ImageWriter was rather nice because (a) it could do a large variety of fonts and graphics as well as preprogrammed internal fonts, and (b) I believe its "high quality" mode was 144 dpi. Whee!

Daisywheel printers always freaked me out, as a typist, because their maximum speed was well below my own, so I'd type at 100-120 wpm and the typewriter would be clacking away at 60-80 or whatever its limit was. I ended up filling the buffer with each line and having to wait, and making mistakes as the cadence of the strikes differed from my hitting the keys. (IBM Selectrics, I don't recall if it affected both years, would also have problems if you typed too fast and would just print hyphens, but their limit was far higher than the daisywheels and it only happened when I was really on a roll.)

The secret to manual typewriters, by the way, was using either silk ribbons (not nylon) or respooling certain mylar ribbons intended for electric typewriters. Most of these, e.g. the Selectric ribbons, were truly single-use; one strike would remove all the ink from that area. Some mylar ribbons allowed multiple strikes, useful since manual typewriters only move the ribbon a little bit with each strike. (Speaking as one who still has his first typewriter; mylar has the additional advantage of not drying out over long periods of disuse!)
 


We had DEC equipment at my old place of employment. At some point, our office department retired their IBM Selectric Memory Typewriters for DECmates. The DECmate must have been the first computer (if you can call them that) that I used. I remember very little about using it, but I did a number of papers for my German classes on them. To print them out, I had to change the type thingie in the printer to one that had the correct characters (umlaut, etc.). if I recall correctly the type disk was flat and round, like a wheel with many spokes. I am thankful to be able to say that I long ago got rid of the 5.25” floppies on which I stored those papers. I’m guessing this was in the early 80s.
That's a daisy wheel printer :-)
 


I have fond memories of my Olympia electronic (daisy wheel) typewriter, which had an RS232 port for computer interfacing. Using Mylar ribbon cartridges, a driver produced by an obliging teacher programmer, my Apple II clone and Word Perfect, I was able to produce a master's thesis that met my university's production standards without paying per page for commercial typing and laser printing. Biggest drawback was manual insertion of blank pages every couple of minutes - it was a typewriter, after all. Still has a place of honor in a storage locker for my progeny to dispose of - can't bear to do it myself.
 



We had DEC equipment at my old place of employment. At some point, our office department retired their IBM Selectric Memory Typewriters for DECmates. The DECmate must have been the first computer (if you can call them that) that I used. I remember very little about using it, but I did a number of papers for my German classes on them. To print them out, I had to change the type thingie in the printer to one that had the correct characters (umlaut, etc.). if I recall correctly the type disk was flat and round, like a wheel with many spokes. I am thankful to be able to say that I long ago got rid of the 5.25” floppies on which I stored those papers. I’m guessing this was in the early 80s.
Back in the 80's there were shops where you could rent time on a DECmate word processor. I still have the 8" floppies it used.

The DECmate was a single-purpose minicomputer, running a word-processing operating system, WPS-8. Even the keyboard was specialized for word processing.
 


I remember my son taking an essay into school, printed on one of the first LaserWriters.
Kerning √​
Justification √​

The teacher gave him an A just for the presentation, let alone the content.
 


Apple's dot-matrix ImageWriter was rather nice because (a) it could do a large variety of fonts and graphics as well as preprogrammed internal fonts, and (b) I believe its "high quality" mode was 144 dpi. Whee!
The original ImageWriter was a 9-pin printer. As such it had a vertical resolution of 72 dpi (the spacing of the wires in the print head), but the firmware would double this (when printing in "near letter quality" or a high resolution graphics mode) by printing all the odd-numbered rows, then advancing the paper by 1/144" (half of the wire-spacing of the print head) and then printing the even numbered rows, giving you 144 vertical dpi at the cost of having to go across every line twice.

The ImageWriter II was by far the most popular version, sold until 1996. It also had a 9-pin head, but it was much faster. It also supported color printing using a multi-color fabric ribbon and a transport capable of moving the ribbon vertically to select the different colors. So, when printing high resolution content in color, it might have to print each line eight times (black, cyan, magenta, yellow for each of the two passes needed for 144 vertical DPI)

For myself, I was using an Epson LQ-500 (24-pin dot matrix) at the time. It cost a lot - $300 when I bought it in 1988 ($650 in 2019 dollars). As with most 24-pin dot matrix printers it had a vertical resolution of 180 dpi (wire-spacing for its print head). Unfortunately, the paper feed resolution was also 1/180", so no resolution-doubling tricks were possible. Its horizontal resolution was either 60, 120, 180 or 360 dpi - achieved by varying the speed of the print head's horizontal motion. At more than half the resolution of contemporary laser printers (first generation HP LaserJet/Apple LaserWriter at 300dpi), it was more than adequate for nearly every task I threw at it.
 


Oh the memories coming back. I remember my first Apple StyleWriter and how silent it was compared to my first printer, an ear-piercingy loud Brother dot-matrix.
 


Daisywheel printers always freaked me out, as a typist, because their maximum speed was well below my own, so I'd type at 100-120 wpm and the typewriter would be clacking away at 60-80 or whatever its limit was. I ended up filling the buffer with each line and having to wait, and making mistakes as the cadence of the strikes differed from my hitting the keys. (IBM Selectrics, I don't recall if it affected both years, would also have problems if you typed too fast and would just print hyphens, but their limit was far higher than the daisywheels and it only happened when I was really on a roll.)
I'm a very fast typist and don't remember outpacing my old Selectric, but it could have been the model. As I recall, holding down the hyphen key would make it print hyphens all across the page, presumably intended to cross out what you had written. That may have worked with other keys as well, which was useful when I had second thoughts or fumblefingered.
 


Prime 550 was our hardware at the engineering consulting company I worked at to put myself through college, complete with “disk packs” the size of a cake stand and a line printer the size of a washing machine. I spent my first summer inputting time sheet data from the 1960s for a project estimating program.
 


When I was in high school (class of 84) we had Commodore PETs in the lab, with cassette-based storage. You pressed "play and record" and waited while it spooled our little BASIC programs to the tape. Later, they got a 5.25" floppy disk on one of the machines. Hidden away, not for general lab use, were a few Commodore 64s, with a separate color screen. I typed one of my English papers on the c64, and printed it to whatever dot-matrix printer they had. My English teacher rejected the paper: the dot-matrix font did not have descenders, therefore was unacceptable; she also felt that the computer gave me an "unfair advantage" over fellow students using typewriters.
 


Oh the memories coming back. I remember my first Apple StyleWriter and how silent it was compared to my first printer, an ear-piercingy loud Brother dot-matrix.
Ah yes, the first StyleWriter - a bubblejet printer made by Canon and badged by Apple. That brings back many memories. I remember printing proof pages of my 16-page Destination Jarre fanzine to that printer from QuarkXPress 3 on my Mac Classic - the PostScript to QuickDraw conversion in software was amazing. The only problem: it took about one hour to print one page… but it was worth the wait. Amazing!
 


You don't have to go down memory lane to see an ancient printer. Just go to any airport, pick a gate, and you'll see a dot matrix printer zinging flight manifests on perforated paper and carbon ribbon.
 


I had a Brother typewriter with the daisy wheel. Then it went to typewriter heaven, and I went looking for a computer. I walked into Businessland and asked to see computers. He asked me what I wanted to do. I had just been tasked to print a newsletter for my office. He said buy a Mac. So I ordered my Mac Plus in 1988. It arrived a week later, on Saturday, and by Friday I had created the Bell Plaza Sawgy Newsletter with graphics by HyperCard. Printing was performed by an HP OfficeJet inkjet printer. After several issues, the CWA Union asked how I produced my newsletter. I told them on my Mac Plus....
 


Ah yes, the first StyleWriter - a bubblejet printer made by Canon and badged by Apple. ... the PostScript to QuickDraw conversion in software was amazing. The only problem: it took about one hour to print one page…
Yes, the print speed was the butt of many jokes at the time, particularly when the printer would suck the paper back in. People wondered what was going on. Some wag theorized it was reading what it had just printed.
 


The ImageWriter II was by far the most popular version, sold until 1996. It also had a 9-pin head, but it was much faster. It also supported color printing using a multi-color fabric ribbon and a transport capable of moving the ribbon vertically to select the different colors. So, when printing high resolution content in color, it might have to print each line eight times (black, cyan, magenta, yellow for each of the two passes needed for 144 vertical DPI)
The first computer I owned was a Commodore 64c (the restyled 128-like version). I was given the Commodore 1526 printer, which I'm fairly certain is a 9-pin model.

Back in the day, I most often used the GEOS environment when I needed productivity, particularly for its geoWrite word processor. By the name, it doesn't take much guessing about which program they were trying to emulate.

The printer had an odd quirk: it took the printer six "passes" to print one line of black text. By this, I mean that it would go so far, then back to the left margin. Then a little further, and back to the left margin. Every six passes, it would advance the paper.

I had assumed this was a limitation of the printer, but the one video I can find of a 1526 in operation does not bear this out. Therefore, in actuality, it was probably a quirk of the GEOS software.

But homework assignments took a very long time to print.
 


The ImageWriter II was by far the most popular version, sold until 1996.
This was the first printer I encountered in school, so I'll always have a soft spot for it. Does anyone here have any experience with the cut sheet feeder accessory that allowed the use of plain paper? I have only ever seen photos of it, so I've always wondered whether it was actually useful, or a PITA.
 


The first computer I owned was a Commodore 64c (the restyled 128-like version). I was given the Commodore 1526 printer, which I'm fairly certain is a 9-pin model.
Back in the day, I most often used the GEOS environment when I needed productivity, particularly for its geoWrite word processor. By the name, it doesn't take much guessing about which program they were trying to emulate.
The printer had an odd quirk: it took the printer six "passes" to print one line of black text. By this, I mean that it would go so far, then back to the left margin. Then a little further, and back to the left margin. Every six passes, it would advance the paper.
I had assumed this was a limitation of the printer, but the one video I can find of a 1526 in operation does not bear this out. Therefore, in actuality, it was probably a quirk of the GEOS software.
I couldn't find a user's manual (which, in those days, included the software protocol) on-line, but I was able to find its service manual.

According to that, the 1526 was an 8-pin printer, which means the print head was unable to print descenders on a single pass of the print-head. Since the manual says it supports true descenders, this means it must make at least two passes over a line when in text mode. I assume the print head itself is 72 vertical DPI. So you would probably need two additional passes (including a half-pin-height paper-advance) in order to create a "near letter quality" printout, assuming it has the capability at all.

The behavior you were seeing is almost certainly a GEOS issue. Most printers from that era were expected to print in "text mode" using the printer's built-in fonts. But GUI environments (including Macs, PCs running Windows and other systems like GEM and GEOS) would print everything in "graphics mode", because that's how you can render the OS's fonts. But some printers didn't have enough memory to buffer a full line of graphics (especially in the high resolution mode), leading to buffer overruns/underruns. Overruns would use the flow-control bits on the serial/parallel interface to make the computer stop sending until the buffer empties. Underruns would cause the print head to pause.

After a pause, it would have to re-sync to the right position on the line. For many printers, this would mean sending the head back to the home position (leftmost stop) and then advance forward at its normal printing speed (counting the number of phases on its stepper motor to know where to go) before resuming printing. Trying to resume without doing this would lead to the continuation not quite lining up with the dots already printed, resulting in either gaps (vertical white lines) or overlaps (vertical dark lines).

Depending on the size of the buffer, the resolution, and whether you need to do a micro-feed to double the vertical resolution, this might result in quite a lot of passes per line when printing content in graphics mode that covers most of a page's width.
 


Back in the day, I most often used the GEOS environment when I needed productivity, particularly for its geoWrite word processor. By the name, it doesn't take much guessing about which program they were trying to emulate.
That brings back some memories! I was a beta tester for the original PC GUI version of America Online client software. Since Windows wasn't quite ready for prime time yet, AOL used the PC version of GEOS as its underlying GUI technology. The PC/GEOS software ran as a graphical shell on top of DOS. With the GEOS environment, AOL was able to do a surprisingly faithful duplication of the Mac AOL experience on the PC.
 



Here's a classic Mac mystery.

Can anyone answer the question of why the Mac Classic (1990) would display a very dark gray screen (so dark that you that can just barely tell that the display is on) during its RAM testing phase? You know the test is over when the normal gray pattern appears just before booting begins. The behavior can be seen here, with the memory test appearing to conclude around the 25-second mark

This is why I ask: The Classic is the only model on which I have observed this behavior. Just to make sure my memory wasn't playing tricks on me, I watched a video of an SE with 4MB RAM, which went to full brightness as soon as the screen warmed up. And my Classic II definitely didn't show the behavior of its immediate predecessor. I distinctly remember being surprised at this (admittedly small) difference when my Classic II booted for the first time.

But still, it's weird to see such a noticeable difference in only a single model.
 


Here's a classic Mac mystery.
Is it just me or was the Color Classic enclosure the dorkiest of the compact models? Apple no doubt wanted to scream out to you across a cubicle farm "new Color Classic right here!!", but maybe just the Classic enclosure in a darker grey, a la Mac TV, would have sufficed...
 


This was the first printer I encountered in school, so I'll always have a soft spot for it. Does anyone here have any experience with the cut sheet feeder accessory that allowed the use of plain paper? I have only ever seen photos of it, so I've always wondered whether it was actually useful, or a PITA.
I have hazy memories of being able to get my ImageWriter II to print on single sheets of my letterhead stationary, but I can't remember how it worked. It probably involved removing the tractor feed for continuous paper, and eventually I figured out how to design a digital letterhead and used that with the continuous paper.
 





I realize that everyone has their own opinion. Personally, I quite like it, as mentioned in this post. However, I will definitely agree with you there – say, in PowerBook 100 series gray? The Mac TV was actually black.
I absolutely loved my Colour Classic. It had an amazing pull-out motherboard on a tray design (hey, Jonny, are you listening?). The screen was gorgeous (it was a Sony Trinitron screen, as it had the infamous horizontal metal wire - which I have various whole 'nother stories about). Unfortunately, Apple killed the Colour Classic PDQ because CD-ROM/multimedia suddenly, became a "thing", and that technology required at least a 640x480 resolution, and that gorgeous screen didn't quite cut it at only 512x384… Sadly, in financial needs at the time, I sold mine to a collector in the late 90s. :-(
 


I have hazy memories of being able to get my ImageWriter II to print on single sheets of my letterhead stationary, but I can't remember how it worked. It probably involved removing the tractor feed for continuous paper, and eventually I figured out how to design a digital letterhead and used that with the continuous paper.
Yes, it was either/or: tractor feed or sheet feeder. I still have an ImageWriter II with the sheet feeder sitting in my basement. It worked the last time I tried it several years ago. Now I'm not sure even the old Mac clone down there still works — it's been a few years since I tried it. The print ribbon is probably dried up too. Unless the Mac clone boots, I wouldn't be able to test the printer. But if anyone wants an image, I could take a picture.
 


I recently ran across a CD I burnt with some image (picture) files on it, back on 9/7/01. The computer I had at the time was a Blue & White G3. Thing is, I seem to recall I encrypted the image files via an Encrypt menu item from either the Finder or some Apple application, but I cannot find on Google anything of the like (or whether it was even System 9 or Mac OS X 10.0 that I did this on). And finally, the files have no suffixes, just names; that's why I remember they are pictures.

Haven't had much luck with current day macOS (or virtual Snow Leopard). But I do still have the Blue & White (in storage), with Tiger 10.4 on it (and could revert back to earlier versions). Anyone know what it was I might have done to these image files? And in particular what OS it was done with?
 


I recently ran across a CD I burnt with some image (picture) files on it, back on 9/7/01. The computer I had at the time was a Blue & White G3. Thing is, I seem to recall I encrypted the image files via an Encrypt menu item from either the Finder or some Apple application, but I cannot find on Google anything of the like (or whether it was even System 9 or Mac OS X 10.0 that I did this on). And finally, the files have no suffixes, just names; that's why I remember they are pictures.

Haven't had much luck with current day macOS (or virtual Snow Leopard). But I do still have the Blue & White (in storage), with Tiger 10.4 on it (and could revert back to earlier versions). Anyone know what it was I might have done to these image files? And in particular what OS it was done with?
It is the Apple File Security feature of OS 9, as described in this TidBITS article: Major Features in Mac OS 9.

Tiger on a G3 should be able to run the Classic environment. If you know your passphrase, can you use that to decrypt?
 


Yes, it was either/or: tractor feed or sheet feeder. I still have an ImageWriter II with the sheet feeder sitting in my basement. It worked the last time I tried it several years ago. Now I'm not sure even the old Mac clone down there still works — it's been a few years since I tried it. The print ribbon is probably dried up too. Unless the Mac clone boots, I wouldn't be able to test the printer. But if anyone wants an image, I could take a picture.
If you have a USB serial-port adapter, then you can use Gutenprint drivers for it (on macOS or Linux).

Even without connectivity, you can run a self-test. If I remember correctly, you hold down one of the panel buttons (I think line-feed, but it might be form-feed) while powering it on, and it will print a continuous test pattern until you turn it off.

With respect to ribbons, you aren't likely to find a genuine Apple ribbon anymore, but aftermarket ribbons are available. A quick Amazon search finds a black ribbon and (I think) color ribbon.
 



If you have a USB serial-port adapter, then you can use Gutenprint drivers for it (on macOS or Linux).
Correction: Looking more closely, it appears that Gutenprint doesn't have an ImageWriter II driver, but the Linux Foundation's OpenPrinting project does have one. There are instructions on how to configure CUPS (the printing system Apple uses and one of the most popular ones on Linux) for it.

Reading those instructions, it appears that CUPS can use Ghostscript for rendering PostScript content into raster-scan data, and the ImageWriter II driver is built-in to Ghostscript (accessible via a custom PPD file). No idea at this time if this driver supports color or not. Also no idea about how hard it is to make all this work (at minimum, you'll have to install Ghostscript).
 



It is the Apple File Security feature of OS 9, as described in this TidBITS article: Major Features in Mac OS 9. Tiger on a G3 should be able to run the Classic environment. If you know your passphrase, can you use that to decrypt?
Come to think of it, I do have a copy of SheepSaver available (and working!) on Mojave. And now I see that there is the Encrypt menu item (yay). Have a pretty good idea what the passphrase was, also. Now (hopefully) just need to figure out how to get files over to it and give it a try.

Thanks, guys.
 


My wife and I visited the Apple Museum during a brief visit to Prague a couple of weeks ago. The collection includes Macs (desktop and laptop), iPods, iPhones, and iPads through 2012, as well as many Steve Jobs memorabilia. The first wall-mounted exhibit shows pictures of Apple products in chronological order; we must have spent five or ten minutes there, as I pointed out every one that I've owned since 1981. Worth a stop if you're an Apple fan.
 


My wife and I visited the Apple Museum during a brief visit to Prague a couple of weeks ago. The collection includes Macs (desktop and laptop), iPods, iPhones, and iPads through 2012, as well as many Steve Jobs memorabilia. The first wall-mounted exhibit shows pictures of Apple products in chronological order; we must have spent five or ten minutes there, as I pointed out every one that I've owned since 1981. Worth a stop if you're an Apple fan.
It's an excellent museum and has a lot of different models/equipment. I've been there a few times, as I take friends and family when they visit me. If you're in Prague, don't forget to wave "hi" to me and MacStrategy and maybe come buy me a beer (the real Budweiser Budvar, not that American fake stuff ;-)

This is their web site if you're visiting: Apple Museum.

My roaming info for visiting Prague/Czech Republic can be found here:
 


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