[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Star Dot Matrix Printer

April 8th, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Star Micronics Delta-10 Dot Matrix Printer Ad - 1983The Star Micronics Delta-10 Dot Matrix Printer: Mouse with Machine Gun

My family owned this exact printer. In fact, I think it’s still sitting in my parents’ attic as we speak. If I’m not mistaken, we used it with our Apple IIe system — the one my dad built from a bare circuit board and a set of cloned ROM chips (much like the one in this 2006 VC&G post).

It’s probably the first printer I ever saw in action, likely before I could even walk. I can recall crawling under our computer desk (the printer was on the floor beneath it for some reason) and watching it print out whimsical banners and calendars from a program like Broderbund’s The Print Shop.

But what I remember most about it, of course, was the sound it made: like a screeching robot mouse spraying lead into tractor-feed paper with a tiny machine gun. Like any dot matrix printer, once you hear one in action, the sound will never leave you.

Those were the days.

Of course, I was still using a dot matrix printer until the early 1990s, so I am pretty much scarred for life. Mice everywhere.

[ From Personal Computing, November 1983, p.28 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What was the first printer you ever owned?

22 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Star Dot Matrix Printer”

  1. Jim Says:

    Star NX-1000 for me!

  2. Eagles409 Says:

    My first printer was an Apple Imagewriter II, which I still have. I remember when we replaced our Apple 2e, several years later, with an IBM PC, we bought a new printer. The new printer was an Epson dot matrix that was about half the speed and print quality of the ImageWriter. Remember using the old dot matrix printers and Printshop software to create banners? Good times.

  3. technotreegrass Says:

    I remember being fascinated by the dot-matrix computers in computer class in the early 90s, watching them print out some pic I made from…something, I forget, and carefully removed it from the printer to let it sit for a few minutes to make sure all the ink dried. Printers have lost that magic for me ever since, even the high-quality color laser printers. Maybe it was the distinct sound they made that made the experience so magical.

  4. Bryan Says:

    Okimate 10!

  5. Matt Brady Says:

    I had a Star SG-10. It was a real workhorse. And it used regular two-spool typewriter ribbons instead of special cartridges, so they could be replace real cheap.

  6. TNLongFellow Says:

    Epson LQ510 and I had a plotter I got from somewhere. That thing was HUGE! and took so much power when it printed the lights would dim slightly! And it was so LOUD you didn’t want to be in the room with it as where I had my computer set was kinda small. It would drive you insane

  7. Marissa Says:

    An Okidata dot matrix of course! It looks like they still sell them too.. might have to pick one up


  8. John Says:

    A Commodore MPS-1250 was the first printer I ever owned. For years before that, I would just borrow a printer or use the comps in a lab.

  9. Stan Says:

    My first was the Coleco Adam daisywheel printer. I was always jealous of the kids who could print graphics and double-wide fonts on their dot matrix printers, but in retrospect the letter quality of the daisywheel what kind of cool.

    Next was (I think) a Packard Bell dot matrix for the Apple II, then a Star dot matrix for our 386. By the mid-90s I was printing everything on laser printer at school or work.

    I recently set up an Apple IIgs system complete with Image Writer II printer, and printed a few of the sample documents in Word Perfect that exercised the printer’s features. I had forgotten just how horrifyingly loud that thing was.

  10. SirFatty Says:

    The Okimate 10 color thermal printer for my C-64. It was pretty quiet, and slow. The first dot matrix was 1988 with my IBM clone, it was an Epson..

  11. Judith Says:

    I’m pretty sure it was an Epson FX-80 dot mtrix (might have been a Panasonic of similar vintage). I still have it in storage, but I used it 2 years ago to print out the original Fortran source code for Colossal Cave for our History of the Adventure Game exhibit at PAX Prime!

  12. Alexander Says:

    The first printer we had was a Toshiba Dot matrix printer probably purchased somewhere right around 1989 by my dad before I was born. I remember having that as the main house printer, until about 1997 when I had my first computer all to myself, and my dad decided it was time for him to upgrade.

    That’s when the Toshiba became mine, until we donated it to the family across the street. When they threw it out a few years later, I wanted to rescue it to play around with it, but I was discouraged from doing just that… I miss that loud contraption.

    I also remember an early B/W QMS laser printer entering our house around 1996, complete with an external box that was either the spooler or the device switch. It was a MASSIVE printer, and strangely had a few red and lime green accents on it… I wish we didn’t throw that one out either.

    Both printers were replaced by an HP laser printer (that had a short run in our house), and an Epson Color Stylus 600 which stuck around for at least a decade. I miss all four of ’em, because they did their jobs better than any printers I have come across since.

  13. Yves Bolognini Says:

    When I had to decide which printer to buy for my Amiga 2000, I almost bought the Star LC-10. But at the end I had the enormous but great NEC P6 plus with color option.

  14. Jim Carpenter Says:

    Radio Shack TRS-80 DMP-110. Used it on a TRS-80 Model 4 and COCO 2 & 3.


  15. Dave K. Says:

    Mine was an epson LX-800. I remember it had some paper feeding issues if the paper wasn’t lined up perfectly. IIRC my biggest challenge with it as a kid was feeding it extended ascii characters from IBM DisplayWrite and wondering why it printed out junk instead. I also fondly remember discovering the DOS “graphics” command that would allow you to print whatever was on the screen out on the printer.

    In school we had IICs with imagewriters. These particular printers were put inside this clear plastic box to muffle the awful noise.

  16. TheSaintOfPain Says:

    My first was an Epson MX-80, used with my old IBM XT:


    My XT had an early version of MS Word, and I used it like crazy to print old stories and fan fics I used to write through my teens. The printer died mid-print about 10 years ago with a big *POP* and a blast of smoke, after about 15 years of my own use/abuse, and only then did I buy my first inkjet printer, a Lexmark cheapie from KMart that died in about 3 months for no reason I could ever figure out.

  17. chris Says:

    I never owned a dot matrix printer. I only know them from school. We had one with 9 pins there.
    My first printer was a HP DeskJet 600. It comes with the lion king print studio. There was only one tray for the ink cartridge. If you want to print in colors you had to replace the black cartridge with the color one. Black was mixed with the color ink then.
    Once I put in a too thick paper and it got stuck. The whole ink leaks into the printer.

  18. Daniel Says:

    My first printer was a 9-pin Star 1000 connected to my Commodore 64 via a Xetec Jr Parallel interface. Worked great with the Word Writer 6 word processor application. Later, I upgraded to a Toshiba T1000 laptop running WordPerfect 5.1 and a Panasonic KX2180 24 pin printer. Still use the Panasonic printer to print out program listings.

  19. arlandi Says:

    don’t recall much, but i think it’s something like this for my dad’s apple II clone.
    the next one i remember was the legendary Epson LX800. we used these beasts a lot in college. the noise it made…
    and in every exams for programming language (pascal, c, asm, cobol), if you hear this noise then you know someone has finished. that person was usually me…
    i broke concentration for a lot of people.. hahaha

  20. Nathan Zeldes Says:

    Yep, that was a very decent and inexpensive Epson clone. I actually went and converted mine into an image digitizer for my Commodore 64 – see http://www.nzeldes.com/Miscellany/ImProc.htm for some detail.

  21. Jon Says:

    I used a Star Micronics Gemini 10X with a CP/M Kaypro for most of college back in the mid-to-late 80s. I even had a program (I forget what it was called) that would take WordStar documents and print them at glacial speeds in near letter quality using the Gemini’s graphics printing mode. You can still grab a copy of the 10X/15X manual in PDF from Star’s Japan web site: http://www.star-m.jp/eng/service/usermanual/g10xum1.pdf. When I replaced the Gemini with a 24-pin Panasonic KX-P 1124, I felt like I’d made a major technological leap forward!

  22. Elek Hutchinson Says:

    Hi all, not trying to turn this into a sales post, but have recently come across a large amount of older printers from an estate – I’m talking about old-school dot matrix printers – CITOH M-1550, C315, an old Wang printer, OKIDATA, HP Plotter, Panasonic, NEC 5300, etc. etc.

    Besides Ebay, are there any good places where I could list or post to try to sell? I haven’t been able to test printability of each item as I have struggled to find an older computer with an OPS to test, but 90% of them turn on and run just fine.

    15 printers/items in total – a number of spare parts, almost have all manuals, original service & sales history with supplementals from those companies as well.


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