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TRS-80 is a registered trademark of the Tandy Corp.

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find an ASR 33 Teletype. These can be obtained with a stand or as a table model. They take 8" roll paper, are pressure fed, and usually have a keyboard from which you can type directly to the paper. The ASR 33 a serial interface, such as the TRS 232. It also requires a software driver to be in memory. No code conversion is required, since the ASR 33 is an ASCII device. Good used ASR 33's can be found in various state of repair from about $300. to $600. The TRS 232 will cost another $50.

Some of the disadvantages to the ASR 33 are: It is serial and requires a driver in memory. It is slow (about 10 characters per second). The print element does not always strike the paper squarely, causing the "O" to look like a "C", for example. They are big, heavy and somewhat noisy. They are sturdy though, and will give years of service.

The ASR 38 is almost identical to the ASR 33. The big exception is that the 38 has upper and lower case. In addition, it has a 15" carriage, and will take standard computer line printer paper. The problem with this is that it accepts only that paper and no other! It is not pressure fed, but rather is pin fed. The same problem which applied to the 33 with character definition also applies to the 38. Like the 33, it is serial driven and requires software in memory. The price is about the same as the 33. The only real advantages are that it has upper/lower case and also seems to be less noisy.

Trendata 1000

Staying with serial printers a while longer, let's take a look at the TRENDATA 1000. This is another serial driven IBM Selectric printer. Again it can be driven with the TRS 232 interface - but now there is also code conversion to take into consideration, since it uses the IBM correspondence code.

The TRENDATA 1000 comes in a nice little desk unit, the side of which is crammed full of electronics. It is necessary when first powering upthis unit, to issue an "LPRINT9" command to get things going (else it will do absolutely nothing!). The print quality of the TRENDATA is what you would expect from a Selectric - nice. One advantage of this device as a printer is that you can use it off-line as a standard office typewriter. The price is between $800. and $1000.

If you intend to use the TRENDATA for TRS-80 line listings, you will need to find a print element that has the "greater than", "less than" and "up arrow". It would also be nice to have a cancelled zero. (See: Letter to the Editor. 80-U.S. Mar-Apr 80, page 4, for more information on this element). Changing the print elements in a Selectric is a snap, if you will pardon the pun.

The TRENDATA is a solid unit which seems to be built better than the standard office Selectric. The ribbon cartridge in the TRENDATA is rather short, and invariably runs into the leader in the middle of a long listing before reversing itself. For light work though, this may be an excellent choice of printer.


Here is another Selectric - this time the Selectra-Print. This one currently costs slightly over $2000. It is a parallel printer and the code conversion from ASCII to IBM correspondence is done with hardware. The hardware consists of a blue box which connects between the printer and the expansion interface parallel port. It contains an on-off switch, and another switch to select all upper case (for listings) or upper/lower case.

The Selectra-Print has excellent print quality, and a large ribbon which seems to last for months. It comes with the "greater than" and "less than" in the proper places, but prints a bracket in place of the "up arrow".

The typewriter mechanism itself is not as sturdy as that of the TRENDATA. It is a constant problem keeping it in adjustment to prevent printing underscores or dashes in place of the correct character. Although IBM will service this typewriter, they have a policy not to touch things not theirs, which includes the solenoids under the typewriter which are generally what get out of whack. Again, you have the advantage of an office typewriter when used off-line.

Centronics 779

We have had the Radio Shack Centronics 779 for well over two years. It is a dot-matrix printer and has variable pitch (up to 132 characters per line). With a tractor feed, it costs about $1500. It is upper case only, produces an irritating grinding noise, and is built to withstand a beating. It prints several thousand labels for us every other month and has not failed in the whole time we have had it. It will print up to 120 characters per second, depending on the setting of the variable pitch control.

Microline 80

We recently acquired the Microline 80. This printer looks like a toy compared to the others. But it has some features that are very impressive.

It occupies just a little over a square foot of desk space (yes, it is that small!). It is a parallel, dot-matrix printer and prints at 80 characters per second. It has three software selectable pitches: 5, 10 and 16 characters per inch horizontally. It is also software selectable at 6 or 8 lines per inch vertically. It will print 132 characters per line at 16 characters per inch. It has upper and lower case -and if you use NEWDOS+ you can use the JKL feature to print out a screen full of graphics (but POKE 17360,255 first). Yes, it prints TRS-80 graphics with very little distortion.

It has a pressure platten, 9" pin feed and an optional snap-on tractor which is adjustable. When the tractor is attached, it relieves the pressure from the platten. It is quiet, the only sound you hear is the pins striking the paper. It takes a standard Underwood spool ribbon (with eyelets). Although we have only had it for a few months, there have been no problems. The cost is about $800., with the tractor costing another $130 or so. We brought ours from Level IV Products in Livonia, Ml., since they seem to have the best price on it currently.

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