Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 1, NO. 3 / AUGUST 1982

Two More Printers

Alphacom Model 42

by Jim Capparell

The Alphacom 42, at $199.00 is the least expensive printer I have found. It works as advertised right out of the box. The cable does cost extra ($20.00), but is probably worth it unless you've made cables in the past. It connects to the printer port of your 850 interface with no hassle.

The printer has a self-test feature, which can be used to verify proper operation. There is also a DIP switch hidden, but accessible, which allows control of the auto-wrap feature, selection of right or left justification, and use in a parallel or serial mode.

The advantages, other than cost, are speed (2 lines per second), quiet (it's thermal), and ease of use. It is also reliable. This particular mechanism has been used by Olivetti in calculators since about 1974 with very few problems. There are only six major moving parts and the thermal head is replaceable with an estimated life of well over 1,000,000 lines. Service, if needed, is available through Alphacom and they promise about one week turn around.

The current unit is also available in a faster, 4-lps model for $299. Both units include an auto-wrap around mode. Lines longer than 40 columns are automatically printed on the next line. These units also print graphics. I have yet to use the graphics capability since this requires some software and study of the documentation. I should mention that the documentation seems more than adequate.

The ALPHACOM 42 is a thermal printer requiring special paper (available for $12.00/box of 4 rolls). Each roll prints about 10,500 lines. Paper is available in either blue or back print. Use black if you intend to xerox your listing. The paper can fade or discolor in strong sunlight. One disadvantage is that this printer is only 40 columns. Although perfect for listings, it is really not sufficient for letters.

I find that due to its speed I use the printer for getting a listing quick. I also have found that I can get a fast working draft of letters. The advantage is speed and quiet.

For those of you on a limited budget you can't go wrong at $200.00.

Printer available from:
2323 So. Bascom Ave.
Campbell, CA 95008
(408) 559-8000


by Matt Loveless.

The new letter quality printer from Smith-Corona, the TP-I, is a remarkable value for small business and personal applications. It is a typewriter-quality, daisy-wheel printer costing less than $900. That makes the TP-I a printer well worth considering. Combine this printer with your word processor and you will suddenly be able to produce professional looking documents in your own home..

The TP-I supports many formatting features. You have the ability to set, under software control, such things as the right margin, left margin, and tab stops. In addition to this, by moving a selector switch on the printer, you may manually choose line spacings of 1, 11/2, and 2. These built in features allow you go get impressive looking documents with even the most rudimentary word processor..< p> Another nice feature is the automatic page advance. This switch, when enabled, allows the printer to automatically skip over page breaks. When the end of a sheet of continuous paper is reached, the printer will automatically advance over the perforation. This feature is superfluous since the TP-I is friction-fed, and cannot yet handle continuous form paper. Smith-Corona promises continuous form capability soon..

One of the nicer attributes of the printer is the ability to switch print wheels. This allows you the option of printing in more than one font or print style. Some other positive features of the printer include auto underscore, and a backspace code for slashing zero's and other characters. Additionally, ribbon cassettes are the same as those used in typewriters and are readily available..

The TP-I does have some flaws, though. Because it is a letter quality printer, it is very slow (12 cps) and therefore not good for such things as program listings. In addition it is noisy. The cooling fan runs continuously..

The TP-I was tested with the Atari Word Processor because of its ability to send control codes to the printer via its "CTRL-INS" option. The TP-I is possibly compatible with other word processors, but because of constant upgrades, check with the word processor manufacturer for compatibility questions..

The TP-I is a very sound and affordable letter quality printer. Although you do sacrifice functions that the more expensive letter quality printers possess, you do not sacrifice print quality. The TP-I is a welcome addition to the Atari compatible products.

Printer available from local dealer or: Smith-Corona
65 Locust Ave.
New Canaan, CT 06840.