Why are printers and drivers so complicated? "I want a set of dots with this shade here, please" shouldn't need 200MB of software

Also protocols exist, but no printer made in the last 10 years seems to use them consistently

Never mind 3D printing, we need 2D printing fixed first

@cypnk good luck with that. as far as i can tell, it's been regressing at least since i was in my early teens, and i am about to turn 37.


@brennen Printers shouldn’t be this hard. Even if they’re buried under a mountain of patents, there should be a way to distill the essential components into a workable, minimal unit

@cypnk yeah. i feel like printers are an unusually clear example of all the ways that the market slowly but irresistibly unsolves a class of solved problems.

@brennen @cypnk I miss my old Epson dot-matrix printer. It came with a manual telling you exactly what bytes to send to make it poke out dots in whatever pattern you like - a nice simple system for graphics where each byte maps to one of 8 pins on the print head, then you do a 8/72" line feed and send another lines worth of dots.

@cypnk @brennen ah, cool! Epson has this manual digitized! Go take a look at programming a printer, complete with some examples in BASIC.
files.support.epson.com/pdf/ex (graphics start on Chapter 6, pdf page 58)

@kepstin @cypnk neat. :)

my grittiest low-level experience with controlling printers has all been zebra label printers that take epl/zpl - which can be kind of a gross undertaking in its own right, but i've got to give it to those things on robustness and predictability.

@cypnk @kepstin (oh, and, sort of indirectly, dealing with gerbers and excellon drill files destined for printing circuit boards.

i don't think i can in fairness describe that particular decades-old technology as a _solved_ problem.)

@cypnk @brennen Printers are why I have no faith in self-driving cars.

@cypnk @brennen That distillation was done in the 1990s. It's called the Laserjet 4 series. (And they can pry my Laserjet 1100 consolation prize from my cold dead hands.)

@deutrino i lost a laserjet... II? (III? i forget now) to a breakup about a decade ago that i still think of with great fondness. (the printer, not the relationship.)

it weighed as much as a small refrigerator, but it worked every time without fail and the output was super clean.

@brennen yeah dude I would likely think of the printer wistfully a heck of a lot more often in that case too 😂

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