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  1. rbean says:

    I wonder if anyone saved the data files for these…

  2. anachrocomputer says:

    I have an 8-pen plotter (HP 7550) and I still occasionally do this kind of thing. I recently had a go at generative snowflake patterns, for instance. My machine uses a late 1970s plotter language, HPGL (Hewlett-Packard Graphics Language), which is basically an ASCII text description of the page to be plotted. Resolution is 40 plotter units per millimetre. Good plotter pens are hard to find nowadays, the old stock having dried up in the packets a decade ago.

    1. Silverman says:

      I don’t often make a rant against the amazing modern state of technology. But I recently found a 25-year-old pen plotter that I could still operate with a brand-new computer over RS-232. And I got mad that modern-day printers only work as long as the manufacturer still writes drivers for new operating systems. I have at least two other HP printers that will stop working when I stop having Windows XP. This is not progress.

      On the topic of dry pens, I had the same problem. But I’ve managed to hollow out some of the dried-out pens and wedge in some ordinary, felt-tip colored pens padded with masking tape.

      1. anachrocomputer says:

        Yes, I absolutely agree with you. It’s a case of “if you can’t continue using it with a new OS, then you don’t own it”. Sorry, can’t think of a snappier way of putting that! I have the (paper) manuals for the HP 7550, all three of them (quick start, interfacing, programming). And I can refer to them in order to write HPGL-generating software in any language, on any OS, on any hardware. Generating HPGL on something as small as an Arduino (or as large as an Alpha) should be absolutely feasible. I’m using a USB-to-RS232 cable to connect the plotter to my “legacy-free” laptop (recycled) which runs Linux, but the machine also has a GPIB (IEEE-488) port to connect to my oscilloscope!

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