[Coco] Coco and Modern Printers

Frank Swygert farna at amc-mag.com
Sun Sep 16 18:22:09 EDT 2012

Date: Fri, 14 Sep 2012 19:32:55 -0500
From: Christopher Hawks<chawks at dls.net>


	The Raspberry Pi should run the Linux version of Drivewire 3 with no problem.
It has printer support. (Might be possible to run Drivewire 4, depends on RPi's
Java capabilities.)

	A credit card sized Drivewire Server!!

	That's one of the first things mine is going to do (if it ever gets here!).

That would be one heck of a nice thing to have Chris! Just add a USB hard drive or large SD card and go! Heck, it has an Ethernet port (the B model), a network drive should work too. Heck, the Raspberry Pi
(RPi) will make a great CoCo emulator platform -- mount it in a CoCo case, and maybe the general purpose I/O lines can be programmed to take the CoCo keyboard and joysticks (aw heck, I forgot the I/O chip name used in the CoCo!!). Use a pair of them talking to each other (maybe a cable between the Ethernet ports?) inside a CoCo and have an emulator and Drivewire server all on the same case with a 2.5" hard drive!!

Chris's reply was in response to my mentioning the RPi single board computer as a printer server, or a micro controller. I did a little searching and have found that a micro controller isn't powerful enough to do something like this, except print to a thermal receipt type printer, which has a built-in ASCII font.

The original question was is there a cartridge or adapter to connect a modern, inexpensive USB inkjet printer. Problem is those preinters rely on the driver and computer CPU to do all the work for the printer, which has no real "brains", unlike the old dot matrix printers that had character sets built in. The graphics programs for the CoCo that used multiple fonts created them on the graphics screen and printed as "drawings". Printing anything more than a page or two with something like CoCoMAX was rather slow.

In general, if a printer (inkjet or laser) has a Centronics parallel port in addition to a USB port it most likely has built in Epson emulation and will work with a CoCo. Those are designed to work with older computer systems that of-loaded the printing to the printer instead of having the (slower) CPU do the work. If you find one with a parallel port look up the specs -- if it's MS-DOS or Windows 3.1 compatible it should work with a CoCo.
The Epson C88 should work, but has recently (within the last year) been discontinued. It's still available new from $85-$125 (http://www.nextag.com/Epson-C88-Inkjet-Printer-506219384/prices-html). The HP 840c and 842C will work with a serial to parallel adapter (they have parallel and USB interfaces -- a serial to USB should work). These can still be founds, but haven't been made in years. They were good reliable inkjets though.

Frank Swygert
Editor - American Motors Cars Magazine

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