[vcf-midatlantic] Greenbar print

Jameel Akari jakari at bithose.com
Sun Feb 28 20:18:40 UTC 2021

I’m really happy to hear that Mike was able to get this out the door.  Fantastic, and I’m a little envious of that beast printer.

I really like that this exercise motivated myself and others to get their printers working, or at least triaged.

My Proprinter XL24 is back together sans all of its sound insulation that turned into the Labrea Tar Pits.
(Note to self: find a replacement for this material, since IBM used it by the acre in 1980s-90s equipment.)

Everything got a decent cleaning for the first time, anything that should/could get lubed did. I’m leaving the chunky Sprague capacitors be for now since voltages test good in the few places I can reach, and removing the circuit board would involve tearing the entire thing apart, with some irreplaceable plastic clips involved.

The “refreshed” ribbon is… usable for testing at least.  I know that new/remanufactured ribbons are available, but none of them would have arrived in time.  I’d thought I still had a sealed NOS ribbon but it’s disappeared, and chances are it wasn’t sealed-enough 20+ years later anyway.

I was looking at the scans of the Apollo code and thinking that yeah it was probably a drum, but I also thought of the mechanism on the 1958 FACOM 128B Japanese computer that CuriousMarc covered a while back:
https://youtu.be/_j544ELauus?t=1096 (cued to the printer).

The IBM 6262 band printers that I tended to from 2000-2005 were still referred to as “line printers” as they had hammers behind the paper for all 132 columns.  The hammer would fire when the right character on the steel type band spun into the correct column.  The band repeated some characters so that multiple characters could fire off at once.  The print ribbon was a roll 132 columns wide and maybe 50 feet long, and it’d wind and rewind smoothly across the band.

I want to say they were rated at 1200 lines/minute.  They certainly turned a lot of trees into reports fast - we’d go through 6-7 cases of greenbar per week when I first started.

https://imgur.com/gallery/BR6jYYZ — I took these when we were saying goodbye to them around 2005… using whatever “smart” phone I might have had in 2005.

It was possible to operate them with the front door open, but doing so would indeed deafen you before too long!  The soundproofing of the cabinets was impressive, in retrospect.

I wish I had copies of some of the configs and code we had to make using these on Solaris easier.  It’d be good reference for today.


> On Feb 28, 2021, at 12:56 PM, Jeffrey Brace via vcf-midatlantic <vcf-midatlantic at lists.vcfed.org> wrote:
> On Sun, Feb 28, 2021 at 11:50 AM Glenn Holmer via vcf-midatlantic <
> vcf-midatlantic at lists.vcfed.org> wrote:
>> On 2/27/21 10:58 PM, Mike Loewen via vcf-midatlantic wrote:
>>> On Sat, 27 Feb 2021, Jeffrey Brace wrote:
>>>> So someone else pointed out that dot matrix printout isn't historically
>>>> accurate. So what kind of printer would have actually been used for the
>>>> Apollo 8 code?
>>>    A chain-train or drum printer, such as an IBM 1403. The CHM has a
>>> working 1403 on their 1401 system.
>> Ugh, memories. The 1403 had a worm gear to raise the lid, and
>> occasionally ours would fail. If that happened, the only way to operate
>> the printer until the CE arrived was to prop it open with a two-by-four
>> like a car hood. We even had a specially measured two-by-four with a "V"
>> notch cut in one end for this purpose. One of the guys before me had
>> written on it in magic marker "IBM Butt-Whacker, Part No. ..."
> LOL! Thanks for sharing Glenn! I love hearing stories like this. It's nice
> to hear how machines were used years ago in a production environment.
>> We had this kind: https://bit.ly/2P9tC15
>> Of course, hearing loss was almost inevitable if you used it that way...
>> --
>> Glenn Holmer (Linux registered user #16682)
>> "After the vintage season came the aftermath -- and Cenbe."

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