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Printer Haikus

© September 2006 Dirk Hart


Dirk Hart

A few years ago one of my customers was bought by another larger company. The salient point is that they had some excess computer equipment.

After a few years of providing people with servers and computer equipment you learn what works, what doesn't work, what not to do and every now and again what works really really great. So when I heard this customer was going to abandon their MAI/ Basic Four 300 LPM printer (but everyone knew it was really a Printronix P300) I couldn't stand the pain! I knew this fine workhorse was not meant to be ignominiously put out to pasture. I gassed up the van and came to it's rescue.

Somehow I got the printer loaded into the van and drove home. I told my wife it was a stray and put it in the shed while I made plans for it's future deployment. Cue up the music from Fiddler on the Roof; swiftly flowed the years. It got a little rusty, but not too bad. The squirrels froliced and gamboled all along the paper guide on the top of it and made a mess. Some beasty had carried away some of the sound insulating foam for it's nest and I realized I was the one who had put it away in a dark place.

But still I hung on; the infidels cried out for it's removal, the naysayers hungered to reclaim the space for garden tools. But no, I know Good Stuff when I see it and I would not allow this steadfast friend to be carted away.

And then Jeff called. His printer - a clone of the one in my shed - had printed its last line. His backup printer had been cannibalized for parts. They were finished, done, washed up, dead, dead, dead and not just pining for the fjords. Having printed it had at last not printed on. Nor all his piety nor wit caused half a line to print, nor all his tears made a single word print. He fairly leapt at the albatross that had roosted in the shed these past few years.

Braving the Element he wandered by, loaded up the albatross, and with hope in his heart drove it to its new home. Dusted off, plugged in and turned on. Of course it printed. I know Good Stuff when I see it.

A man of no small talent, Jeff writes Haiku, perhaps the worlds first printer Haiku.

Remember folks - you saw it here first!

Cleaned and ready to go
I plugged it in and waited.
smell not dust burning off.

Three wounded soldiers
More then the sum of a whole?
One emerges a phoenix!

Thanks again, Jeff

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More Articles by © Dirk Hart

Tue Sep 19 20:38:52 2006: 2471   BigDUmbDinosaur

So when I heard this customer was going to abandon their MAI/Basic Four 300 LPM printer (but everyone knew it was really a Printronix P300) I couldn't stand the pain!

The main reason the P300's were so long-lived was because Printronix used the transmission out of a concrete truck to drive the shuttle and tractor assemblies, and the electric motors out of a stamping press for power.

Seriously, about all that ever seem to go wrong with those things was silicon failure on the logic board and gradual wear of the shuttle bearings, which would cause line fadeout. The boards were pretty easy to fix because they didn't use anything exotic. The shuttle bearings happened to be standard sizes and could be readily replaced with regular power transmission parts (I think I may still have the tool I made for the purpose -- machined out of a piece of chrome-moly steel and as hard as a rock). Short of dropping a bomb into one of these machines you couldn't kill it. Too bad the same can't be said for today's crop of printers.


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