Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 87 / AUGUST 1987 / PAGE 61

The World Inside the Computer

Fred D'ignazio, Associate Editor

Robert Evans Meets The Xerox 4020

Robert Evans is a multitalented guy.

One evening last fall he was at our Multi-Media Classrooms Project Launch celebration manning a movie-house popcorn machine. He brought the machine to our elementary school, set it up, and popped enough corn to keep over 100 children and adults happy during our program.

During the day, Robert is the computer "guru" for the chain of Video Showcase stores in Birmingham, Alabama. On weekends, he vanishes—into some dark and mysterious cave. Robert is a spe-lunker—an avid cave explorer— and recently he and his friends discovered a new cave in northern Alabama that some claim is the most important cave discovery in the U.S. in the last ten years. The cave is three miles long; it has underground rivers, a seven-story waterfall, and ceilings over 100 feet high.

Computing By Night

But it's at night, when he returns home, that Robert really enters his element. Waiting at home for Robert is his Amiga 1000, and Robert loves his Amiga with a passion.

I knew Robert was an Amiga expert, so when I got hold of Xerox's new 4020 color inkjet printer, I took it to him to review. Naturally the first thing he did was use it to map out his new cave—in color and in three dimensions.

He also discovered some other things.

Despite its formidable price tag ($1500 retail), and its fancy inkjet technology, the Xerox 4020 is easy to install. Robert took the printer right out of the box, glanced at the manual, and within half an hour had the printer hooked to his Amiga creating bright, colorful pictures,

Xerox has made the printer ribbon a thing of the past. In its place are four little ink tubes—filled with red, blue, yellow, and black ink. You place the ink tubes in their holders, and the tips are automatically opened, dropping the ink into a reservoir, ready for operation.

The printer takes specially coated paper—continuous-feed or single, cut sheets. The paper helps the ink dry quickly (in less than 30 seconds after being sprayed), and it bonds the ink onto the page so that it doesn't smear after drying.

Robert hooked the printer to his Amiga using a parallel cable, and he configured the Amiga operating system to talk to the printer using the Preferences function of the Amiga Desktop.

Robert tested the printer with Aegis Draw, Aegis Images, and Deluxe Paint II. The printer also works with Graphicraft, Textcraft, and other programs. With the graphics programs you can mix text and color drawings on the page. The printer mixes the four colors of ink as it sprays them, so it can create a variety of different colors. Text and images are so crisp and clear that it would be easy to mistake them for typeset or laser-printer output—except they're in color.

But you must be patient. When Robert hooked up the printer, his first several pictures (downloaded from a local bulletin board) were almost unrecognizable because they were so smeared. Then, suddenly, the printer settled down and printed picture after picture perfectly. It was remarkably quiet—so quiet, Robert said, that you could hear a pin drop.

After getting comfortable with the printer, Robert learned that he could use its wide carriage to create extra-wide images and columns of text and figures (up to 132 characters per line). And unlike an impact (for example, dot-matrix) printer, the Xerox 4020 can print pictures and text directly onto transparencies. This feature is a boon to managers, teachers, and trainers who need colorful graphics for speeches, meetings, and classroom presentations. You can take the transparencies fresh off the Xerox 4020, put them on an overhead projector, and display them.

Robert learned that if he printed text along with simple diagrams and boxes, the printer whisked across the page quickly, and he was able to create camera-ready newspaper ads for his Video Showcase stores.

(The Xerox 4020 works on several popular computers, including the IBM PC and PC compatibles, the Apple II series, and, of course, the Amiga. If you would like more information about the Xerox 4020, write Connie Dunlap, Xerox Square, Fifth Floor, 100 Clinton Ave., Rochester, NY 14644-1877, or call 1-800-TEAMXRX—ext. 199A).