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or Tandy 1000! Now you can connect your favorite PC Printer to your TRS-80 or Tandy 1000.
~by Brian K. Hahn ~
The original TRS-80's and Tandy 1000's are great little
machines. The only real problem they had was the inability
to connect a standard off the shelf PC compatible printer to
them. For the most part when you bought a Tandy
machine you were forced to buy a Tandy DMP 110 or 130
dot matrix printer, which because of a non-standard pin-out
configuration could not even be used on an IBM machine.
The answer came a few years later when the Canadian
branch of Radio Shack produced cables out of their Tandy
Electronics Division from Barrie Ontario.
For years InterTan Corporation the international independent
arm of Radio Shack sold a printer cable that would allow a
person to connect a Tandy 1000 and TRS-80 Models I
through IV to and standard IBM compatible printer. These
cables although available nationally in Canada are not well
known in the USA. Today, many Radio Shack stores in
Canada have no corporate knowledge of these gems.
Worse yet, National Parts no longer sell them. Why is this important?
Today, I have my TRS-80 Model IV connected to my LaserJet 4 Plus using Scripsit Pro. Over the years, I have had
many people asking me to source these cables which have become all but extinct. Even a comprehensive search of
eBay and Google failed to locate them. This week I took my only cable apart and pulled out my trusty continuity
tester and I mapped out this printer cable so you too can modify your existing TRS-80 line printer cable or built a new
There is no better thrill than seeing laser quality print come on a document you nursed on your TRS-80 or even the
Tandy 1000. This is just one more reason to grab your Windex bottle and wipe off your old 8bit machine.
I hope you find this information useful, and I would encourage someone out there to start building these cables and
selling them online. For the full article follow the full story link.
One would think that Tandy had again produced a computer that
was not compatible with the industry standard when they built the
TRS-80 and the Tandy 1000's. In fact what they had done was
include THE accepted Centronics standards of the day. The
culprits in this story are actually IBM Corporation and Epson
America arguably the only computer hardware companies big
enough to cause the biggest name in little computers a problem,
By the early 1980's many computer companies had included the
Centronics interface in their systems to provide line
printer capabilities. In fact, the Tandy computers and many other
Personal Computers of the day could swap printers
In August of 1981 IBM and Epson conspired to develop a new IBM standard parallel interface based on the DB25 pin
connector. The shear financial weight of these companies pulled the entire market in their direction and today your
Windows computer's printer interface is the IBM standard. Even the term Centronics interface had become the IBM
standard and the original specifications had almost all but disappeared.
years. In fact the 80286 based office computers all the way up to the Tandy 3000
still had the original pin-outs, but they had changed from the edge card to the DB-
25 connector. If you tried to connect your Epson printer into a Tandy 3000 using
a standard IBM printer cable, all that would happen is the printer would shut down.
This became a sore point for many Tandy users and the company had to act.
InterTan Corporation did and by the mid 1980's two models of these cables came
The following chart gives to a pin to pin matching of the Tandy edge card to the
IBM interface. For the most part its simple matter of re-directing the pin-out
similar to what is done when making a null modem adaptor.
(c) 2004, 2005, Brian K. Hahn
All Rights Reserved.