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IBM PC Compact Printer


The IBM PC Compact Printer was a low cost thermal printer designed specifically for the PCjr. The original price of $175 was very inexpensive compared to other printers, but the PC Compact Printer was also a very low-end printer when compared to the more expensive printers.

Here are the important features:
  • Serial interface (1200 bits per second)
  • Eight wire thermal print head requiring thermal printer paper
  • Characters per line: 80 (standard), 136 (compressed), 40 (double-width) and 68 (compressed double-width)
  • Character box: 5 by 7 with underlining
  • Character set: 96 ASCII printable characters with some international characters
  • Unidirectional (left-to-right) printing only
  • Speed: 56 characters per second
  • Paper feed: friction
  • Graphics mode: Bit image mode with 82.5 dots per inch density

The printer was very small for a printer - 3.5 inches tall, 12.3 inches wide and 8.7 inches deep. The thermal paper (sold in rolls) fit within the printer. The paper had to be torn or cut by hand as it did not come with perforation marks.

Below is a sample of the print from this printer:

You can see the side effects of a friction feed paper handling system in the first two lines. The eight wire print head generated print that was comparable to nine pin printers. (That isn't saying very much ..  you can see it is not acceptable by modern standards.)

The graphics mode is very similar to the Epson graphics modes. Below is a sample of output from the Compact Printer:

(Historical note: This is a RLE graphic from Compuserve, back in the days before GIF images)

Not a bad little printer overall. You had no chance of printing letter quality with it, but for a quick listing or todo list it was more than adequate.

Created in July 5th 2009, Last updated July 5th, 2009
(C)opyright Michael B. Brutman, mbbrutman at gmail.com

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