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1403 printers was: IBM's last tabulator last unitrecord punch card machine 482


Yep, 6670 output was beautiful, but still somewhat limited. The 6670 was still basically a character printer; it could print characters from a limited number of internal fonts but couldn't do graphics or arbitrary, downloadable fonts.

When I got to IBM Research in 1983 the 6670s had been modified to turn them into "Sherpas" - an internal research project that made them into true dot-addressable laser printers much as we would recognize today. Sherpas could print anything, anywhere on the page. The Sherpa control units were about the size of a large PC and sat on top of the original 6670; I don't remember how they attached to the mainframe. Related research projects were working on WYSIWYG document editors to go along with this new capability.

A few years later the 4250 printer came out that was actually sold externally that ran at the unheard-of resolution of 600 dots per inch. It "printed" on sheets of what looked like lottery "scratcher" tickets - black paper entirely covered on one side with silver paint. The "printer" scratched off little dots of the silver, exposing the black underneath. I guess these silver-and-black sheets could be used as production masters for traditional printing presses. I seem to recall it took about 10 minutes to print a sheet.

1403 printers was: IBM's last tabulator last unitrecord punch card machine 483
Hi, Sam...long time no hear. H'mmm...I dug up an ancient user's guide from my PPOE (this copy from several years after I left) and found the GN...

The main difference between these printers and modern ones was that everything about them was completely resolution-dependent. PostScript hadn't been invented yet, and so you had fonts and graphics and entire books that were only printable on 240 dot-per-inch printers, which was the IBM standard (aside from the oddball 4250). IBM stayed with 240 dots per inch way longer than the rest of the industry because it would have been too disruptive to add, say, 300 dot per inch support just for one printer model.

Today's $199 laser printer does 600 dpi real; 1200 effective. Yow.

...Sam

1403 printers was: IBM's last tabulator last unitrecord punch card machine 484
Allodoxaphobia existed An The big design point of the 1403 printer (S-360 history by Pugh et...


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1403 printers was: IBM's last tabulator last unitrecord punch card machine 483

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