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Installing a printer in MS-DOS???


mawilbur's Avatar
mawilbur mawilbur is offline
Junior Member with 7 posts.
Join Date: Apr 2003
09-Apr-2003, 09:17 AM #1
Question Installing a printer in MS-DOS???
It's been sooooo long!
How does one install a printer in MS-DOS 5.0 and on up to 6.0?
I would be using LPT1, LPT2 or LPT3.
Is there some command?.....ahhhhhh!
It's been a while....
Can anyone help me out?

Thanks in advance,

AlwaysLearning's Avatar
AlwaysLearning AlwaysLearning is offline
Member with 222 posts.
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Ontario, Canada
09-Apr-2003, 09:58 AM #2
You would have to find a dos driver(setup utility). Difficult to impossible for newer printers????????????
Check the manufacturer site or
Good luck
104456's Avatar
104456 104456 is offline
Member with 90 posts.
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: UK
09-Apr-2003, 10:52 AM #3
It may be easier if you get an old dot matrix printer on the serial port.
If you have a printer on the LTP1 port ther is a command to print to that port but no guaratees that you printer will be set to recieve it.

Looking at an old dos for idiots book [yes been a while]it says there are 3 ways to print a text file in DOS
3: Edit the file in a DOS editor and use the PRINT command in the print menu.

Another option mention is:
Using the CTRL+P toggles printing on and off,so you CTRL+P to turn it on type DIR at the C prompt and press ENTER to print the screen.
It will continue to print the stuff of the screen until you press CTRL+P again.
This prints the DOS screen not program screens.
codejockey's Avatar
Senior Member with 1,405 posts.
Join Date: Feb 2002
16-Apr-2003, 01:41 AM #4
OK, I'm really showing my age here ...

In general, you do not have to "install" a printer under DOS, except to choose the parallel or serial port where it will be connected. Most DOS applications included a list of "supported" printers (i.e., ones the application knew about) and it was your responsibility to tell each application what type of printer you were using. If your printer was not among the "supported" printers, you could either set your printer to emulate a supported printer or experiment with choices from the supported list until something worked (or you gave up in frustration). Most printers from this era included one or more fairly universal emulations (Epson FX or IBM ProPrinter were popular emulations, for example), so you could use your printer with most applications even if it was not directly supported.

It was also possible to control the printer through a batch file, so that you could set fonts, pitch and various other parameters (and sometimes even switch emulations!).

So, hook it up (parallel is easier than serial, and most printers were parallel), turn it on, and try one of the commands suggested for printing (there's also the "print" command, but save that until you've really got things working properly). If you have special requirements (using LPT2, for example), you may need to use the mode command to configure DOS to communicate with your printer. Using a serial printer also counts as a "special requirement".

Hope this helps.
plejon's Avatar
plejon plejon is offline
Member with 665 posts.
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Willebroek / Belgium
Experience: Intermediate
23-Apr-2003, 07:04 AM #5
Codejockey is right, in DOS each application featured it's own printer drivers. There was not one "central" printer driver that was used by all applications as is the case for windows.

If your application is printing unformatted text, you shouldn't have too many problems. The printer drivers were generally used for such exotic features as printing bold, italic or underlined characters or printing in graphics mode.

For a quick test, connect you're printer to the parallel port and use the print command or this command

echo Hello World >lpt1

Good luck
Cosmic's Avatar
Senior Member with 1,298 posts.
Join Date: May 2003
05-May-2003, 12:50 PM #6
As mentioned the older printers were potentially all different in terms of the more exotic features in the wood burning days of DOS. There was no "print driver" as such for the more normal standard stuff. Like just printing text. Doing graphics was dicey.

What you really need is the manual for any particular older printer. In the back are the Escape Codes for that particular printer and examples of how to use them. Most newer printers will not have the codes in the manual but use a print driver that is loaded as part of Windows.

The extended print codes were most useful for programs that you wrote yourself. Things like getting control of the special graphics funtions or printing functions of which that printer was capable. One big application was things like label makers or anything to do with graphics.

So the commands somehow were embedded in programs by either you writing it in (duh.... we actually wrote our own software) or the author including a printer utility in his software so you could select and setup that program for your particular printer. The software must have a way of changing the codes when required on the fly. Usually complicated and very tailored to a particular program.

There are many Utility type programs written and you can find them as shareware but they had very limited use because most other programs had no way of calling them.

Examples would be like this:

LPRINT CHR$(27)"3"CHR$(10)CHR$(27)"U1"

That would send a command to a printer to change printing features. That would be required in the program every time a particular printing feature change was required. Those codes varied printer to printer.

The neat ones were the older laser printers. Like the HP's had their own languages built in and controlled by supplied software and could be used for very detailed graphics control.

I used the old LaserJet 4L to draw replacement meter scales for analog meters in home brew projects. It was like writing a computer program line by line to output and control a very fine graphics file. Very tedious with a lot of test tries but it worked marvelous.

Progress is nice but I think the old days were a bit more fun
HexStar's Avatar
Guest with n/a posts.
16-May-2003, 07:44 PM #7
Yes , it's recommended you use an old printer like this one. I hope this helps!

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