SUMMARY: Standard Dot-Matrix Printer Filter

From: Anthony Yen (
Date: Sat Aug 10 1991 - 15:00:59 CDT

There seems to be a fair amount of interest in this; apparently,
"dumb" line printers are not given any simple-minded filters to
allow for accounting functions (unless several people and I missed
some files in the SunOS distribution tapes/disc).

Solutions were broken down into three categories:

  1. Swipe one of the publicly available, unsupported filters.
  2. Roll your own.
  3. Purchase NeWSprint.

Of these, (1) and (2) will at most get you the filters to print
plain text and FORTRAN source, assuming that you don't want to
spend a lot of time on this. While I have not verified it (nor
did the respondent of this avenue give an indication that this
was verified), NeWSprint apparently has all the filters to drive
an Epson-code printer (DVI, C/A/T, CIF, plot, raster, ditroff).
NeWSprint lists for about $500 (I was only given an educational
discount quote of $300), for the server version, which makes it
unjustifiable if your users don't plan to use the dot-matrix
printers heavily for non-plain text data---which most will not,
given the alternative to use laser printers.

I have collected:

o A nice filter written for the NEC P-70 (an Epson compatible)
   by (Claus).

o A filter written for the HP LaserJet II by Steve Harris
   (uunet!etnibsd!vsh), which is easily converted for Epsons.

o Steve was also generous enough to send me some code that he
   got that was also written for the HP LaserJet II, this time
   by Brian Utterback.

o An Epson filter written by mtmolina@srv.PacBell.COM
   (Miguel Molina).

It turns out that the last did not do any accounting, so I didn't
bother with mucking around with the code. Instead, I used Brian
Utterback's code to just supply Epson printer commands, and there
were about four lines that wrote out the accounting information.
I'm still fiddling with my code to have it make log entries and
various other sundry things.

What seems to be the most useful for most people will be Claus'
code, which is actually two shell scripts (highly portable). I
can send a uuencode'd tar file of the collected code to anyone
who requests it (since the stuff is too hefty to schlep around
the mail nets). Claus' code will have to be modified slightly
to set the number of lines per page if you do not use the German
standard of 72 lines/page.

If anyone knows where I can find out about the format of C/A/T,
DVI, CIF, plot and ditroff codes, please let me know. It appears
as if dot-matrix printers are sorely underutilized, even if they
are capable of producing output that is not too shabby as drafts
for laser output. I'm going to try to write a DVI filter starting
a couple months from now (too busy now), and try to decipher the
sources for dvips as a beginning.


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