SUMMARY: Looking for an all-around printer

From: Fabrice Guerini (
Date: Fri May 07 1993 - 09:23:36 CDT


I originally asked :
> I am looking for a laser printer that will support the following platforms :
> * Sun
> * Mac
> * PC/Windows
> and that costs less than $1,200. Now, I know that there is a multitude of
> printers that will work with two of those, but I need one kind to install
> in various offices and there is no telling what machines will be using the
> printer.

I received several suggestions, but nothing withing the price range I
wanted. PostScript tends to drive the prices higher. The printer that
comes the closest to that is the Silentwriter 95. Hopefully, the beancounters
here will go along with that.

As an additional info, I was also looking into a networked printer for
our in-house network, with good resolution and Ethertalk capability. I
came across the following specs :

Printer PPM DPI TCP/IP Etalk Ltalk Trays Sheets Price
------- --- --- ------ ----- ----- ----- ------ -----
NEC Silentwriter 95 6 300 No No Yes 2 250 $1,750
Apple LaserWriter Pro 600 8 600 No No Yes 2 350 $1,950
HP LaserJet 4M 8 600 No No Yes 2 350 $2,000
Apple LaserWriter Pro 630 8 600 No Yes Yes 2 350 $2,400
Compaq Pagemarq 15 15 600 No Yes Yes 2 750 $2,800
HP LaserJet 4Si MX 17 600 Yes Yes Yes 2 1000 $4,650
Compaq Pagemarq 20 20 600 No Yes Yes 3 1500 $4,800

Prices may vary.

Here are excerpts from the responses I received.

-- ,
Fabrice Guerini DOMAIN :
Pure Software, Inc. UUCP : {uupsi4,fernwood}!pure!fabrice
Sunnyvale, CA 94087 BELL : (408) 720-1600

        "Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they are yours."
                                                     -- Richard Bach


Date: Fri, 23 Apr 93 10:08:47 -0400
From: "Jose Mendez Sun-VAX System Manager, Astronomy." <>

     I recommend you HP laserJet IIp or IIIP with postrcript and Mamory upgrade
     normally regulated by postrcipt.

     Cost is near to you mentioned.


Date: Thu, 22 Apr 93 17:13:23 PDT
From: (Jake Mahon)

I suggest Hewlett Packard's 4m laser printer. It will sit connected
to a Mac, Sun (serial connection) and PC (parallel connection),and
will accept a printjob coming from any of those sources without
any human intervention. It can also be configured to sense and accept
HPL or Postscript jobs, again without human intervention.

We paid in the neighborhood of $1200 for ours, but I think that included
extra memory and the Mac interface.


Date: Thu, 22 Apr 93 21:55:21 EDT
From: (Michael G. Harrington)

I think the best thing would be the HP IV. (~$1300). You can hook
up a Mac/Windows machine simultaneously (You need the HPIV-M) and then
you could use CAP (see an archie server) to print to the HP via the Mac
from a Sun. You could also hook it directly to a Sun, use CAP for the
Mac to print and PC/NFS or FTP's PC/TCP to print from the DOS machine.


Date: Thu, 22 Apr 93 19:14:51 PDT

Our field sites have been using NEC Silentwriter 95's. If you ignore
what NEC and Sun tell you about how to set them up, you're actually
ahead of the game. (I say this because I had to finally figure things
out entirely on my own.) :-{

They have automatic sensing and switching capability. The field sites
hook up the printer to the Mac via the parallel interface, and to the
Suns via the serial interface. Now, you have to make sure the serial
output from the Suns is RS232 (not RS424), and use a null modem cable
and a gender changer to hook up, and a relatively simple printcap entry.
(Sun's suggested method is, <ahem>, absurd, and NEC says the "don't
support Sun", for whatever reason(s).)

Once you get past the initial install, they seem to be working fine. They
autoswitch between HP-PCL5 and PostScript emulation, and cost (I think)
around $1500.


Date: Fri, 23 Apr 93 02:08:21 EDT
From: paul%gta@uunet.UU.NET (Paul Emerson)

I use a QMS PS-410 in the arrangement you mentioned. The 410 has a
parallel port, serial port and AppleTalk port. Its a 4ppm printer
and takes the same cartridges as the HP IIP. Oh an it's Postscript
of course. I have seen these printers for around $1,300 - 1,400. But
you can be a reconditioned one for around $900.00 (Check Computer Shopper).

I don't use my PC much anymore just my Mac and Sun. I have added a
parallel port to my IPC and now talk to the printer through this port. It
is my opinion this is the way to go. You can get a very low cost high
performance 1 Parallel 2 Serial SBus board from Magma for about $395.00


Date: Fri, 23 Apr 93 08:42:33 +0200
From: (Birger A. Wathne)

QMS should be able to handle automatic switching. They have serial, parallel
and appletalk ports. All can be active simultaneously. You can also
get TCP/IP interfaces and print over the net from you UNIX boxes if you don't
want to use the serial or parallel ports.


Date: Fri, 23 Apr 93 10:00:57 BST
From: Andrew Watson <>

We use a LaserJet III with HP's Appletalk interface in exactly this way. A
local PC can be plugged in to the parallel port, a Unix box into the serial
port and the Mac into Appletalk. The printer must have a Postscript cartridge,
but can be switched to plain ACSII (or HP PCL) if required.

I don't know how much this would cost in the USA, but here it would cost about
1,000 pounds (say about $1,500).


Date: Fri, 23 Apr 93 11:37:11 IDT
From: (Amir J. Katz)

Checkout the PostScript printers from NewGen. They connect to Sun and
Mac, and most probably to PC, too. They have appletalk, serial and (I
think) parallel ports, too. Very high quality. I don't have any contact
info, but I'm sure that you can find it out easily enough.


Date: Fri, 23 Apr 1993 07:04:44 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Robert D. Worsham" <>

  You should consider a networkable printer which supports all of your
  platforms simultaneously which would potentially allow you to purchase
  fewer printers, but more capable ones. I would suggest you consider the
  HP4m printer. It is the HP4 printer with PostScript, extra memory, and
  a LocalTalk board installed. And it's 600 dots per inch!
  Yes I know it's above your $1,200 number, but it supports (out of the box)
  local-talk (for mac), parallel (for PC) and serial (for sun) with all ports
  active at the same time. We have found that in our enviroment, one printer
  replaced three other printers! We had a Qume ScriptTen which was hooked to
  our sun serially, a HP LaserJet series II which was connected via the parallel
  port to a PC, and a LaserWriter IINT which was on LocalTalk. We purchased
  one HP4m and by locating it in a central location we only needed the one
  printer. This helped to reduce our maintenance costs (only one printer
  instead of three!), as well as providing the higher resolution (you need to
  see it to really appreciate it) which I'm sure your users will be wanting
  to have if not now, next year. (At least for us, it made economic sense to
  buy into the new higher resolution, 600 dpi, now instead of 5 years from now
  when our lower resolution printers would finally be depreciated off the books)


Date: Fri, 23 Apr 93 07:55:00 EDT
From: (Barnes William)

QMS has a line of multiprotocol printers. We have had a great deal of success with their 815, 1700 and 2000 printers. The 815 is a good laserwriter replacement. It is a desktop unit and could easily be confused with a laserwriter except for its extra ports for serial/parallel/appletalk. The 1700 gives you more performance, the possibility for ethernet connection (option) and multiple paper trays. The 2000 is a high end unit that has all the benifits of the others at a speed that will blow your s


Date: Fri, 23 Apr 1993 08:42:28 EDT
From: (Bert Robbins)

We have a NEC SilentWriter Model 95 that will print in HP, Diablo
630 and PostScript. The printer is smart enough to figure out
type of document it has received and will print it in the
appropriate mode.


Date: Fri, 23 Apr 1993 08:54:49 -0400
From: Bill Maggio <>

Check out the Okidata OL830. For around $1200 (US) it has Appletalk,
Parallel and Serial ports and PostScript (Level II, I belive).

Call 1-800-OKIDATA, in United States for more info,


Date: Fri, 23 Apr 93 09:00:13 EDT
From: (Donald McLachlan)

Well, this can be done in a couple of ways. It is probably easiest to have
a MAC printer on your MAC network.

There are many programs around that will allow PC's to spool print jobs to
the Unix systems (Suns).

The problem is how to get print jobs from the Suns to the Macs.

If you have a Mac running A/UX (Apples version of Unix) then all is done, you
just have an entry for the remote printer on the Mac in the Sun's /etc/printcap

Otherwise, you can get and install CAP (Columbia Appletalk Protocol). This
allows the Sun's to talk directly to the printers on the Mac network.


Date: Fri, 23 Apr 93 07:44:24 MDT
From: (David B. Brown)

        I have a QMS PS-410 Postscript at home and it will work with all three
simmultaneously, no need to flip switches. It has a serial, parallel, and
Appletalk port on it. You could run the Sun on the serial, the PC on the
parallel, and of course the Mac on the Appletalk. It costs right around
the price you are looking for. I paid $1400 over a year ago so with the
way computer stuff goes down in price you should be able to get it for about
$1200. I just recently moved from Sacramento and remember that there was a
company from the area that always advertised in Microtimes that built
Postscript printers at a reduced rate from the name brands, they also used
a RISC ( AMD2900 I believe ) to run the Postcript engine to help speed things


Date: Fri, 23 Apr 93 10:25:59 EDT
From: (Walt Dabell)

We just got an HP4M (M means for the Macintosh) for $1700 or so that has
the ability to be hooked to all three at the same time. I currently only
have it hooked to a Sun via RS-232 @ 38400baud, and a PC via parallel
cable. It has I/O detection that will select the input automaticaly. It
also has an apple-talk connector on it, but havent tried to hook our Mac
to it yet. It is postscript and has 600dpi resolution. I am VERY happy
with this printer!


Date: Fri, 23 Apr 93 07:46:55 PDT
From: (Mark J. Scheller)

Well, we have an HP LaserJet IVm (the IVm includes extra memory, PostScript and
AppleTalk interface) which is hooked up to the Sun and AppleTalk (for the Macs)
and the PCs print to the IVm through PC-NFS. The IVm will also hook up
directly to a PC with no problem, too, for your PC only sites.

So, the IVm can do: PCs only, PCs to Suns, Macs only, Macs and Suns, Macs
and PCs, and PCs to Suns and Macs.


Date: Fri, 23 Apr 93 11:30:56 EDT
From: (Mark Sims)

As far as compatibility, there are some good printers (PS-based, as you
guessed) that will do the job. The problem is, they are all ~$2-3K minimum.
QMS makes PS printers that sport an Appletalk port (for macs), a serial
port (for Suns) and a parallel port (for PC/Windows) and they all work
concurrently. I can't remember the exact model number (something like
a QMS-PS1460) but it'll run you nearly $3K. It is elegant and works (I
used to have one).

If cost is a major road block, a HP LaserJet II-P with a PostScript
cartridge and beefed up memory (2-4MB) will run you ~$1.5-2K depending
on where you shop. The HPLJII-P sports both a serial and a parallel
port. But be aware that you must configure one port or the other.
To switch between ports is a pain (with a PS cartridge, anyway) on the HPJLII-P
because you must remove the PS cartridge to do it.

You may be able to connect your HPLJII-P to your Sun, install PC-NFS on
your PCs and like product on your macs. This turns your Sun into
a print server. This also works, but unless you already have PC-NFS
and some TCP/IP-based printing solution for you Mac, this could be even
more expensive than a QMS printer.


Date: Fri, 23 Apr 1993 11:58:05 -0400 (EDT)
From: Joseph P. DeCello III <>

I have had experience using both HP Laserjet III's and Apple Laserwriters.
Not for sure if the the HP would work on Mac, or if Apple Laserwriter will
work on PC, but MS-windows has drives for Apple Laserwriter.

Note that if the printer has Postscript Capability, and there is a driver
for it in MS-windows, it's probably work on all three. Suns can take almost
anything, if you can get someone from the net to get you a good
printcap entry. I don't know much (albiet none) about macs though.


Date: Tue, 27 Apr 1993 12:48:43 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Jim Phillips GE-AIT Workstation System Manager, workstations are us!!" <>

look into the NEC Silenwriter 95. It's an excellent printer. I have one at
home. It will automatically switch between Appletalk, and IBM-PC parrallel
interfaces, (although, I'm not positive it has a serial interface, but I think
it does...) It does postscript level 2, and HP's PCL level5. It runs at 6 ppm
comes with 2 mb of ram, and you can get it for around $1,200 !!

no matter what printer you get, make SURE it does postscript. The automatic
interface swicthing is great, and works REALLY neat!


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