Woman Needs Help with ASCII Banner for Uncle’s Memorial

May 8th, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Fuzzy MemoryJust today I received an email asking for help in producing an ASCII-art style printed banner for a memorial service that will take place this Saturday, May 11th, 2013. They will be honoring a lifetime IBM veteran who passed away recently at the age of 69.

I have a few ideas on how to do it, but I’m short on time this week, so I’m hoping someone out there can help her. Here is her email (posted with permission):

Hello. My uncle recently passed away quite unexpectedly at the age of 69. We are holding his memorial on Saturday, May 11th. I have been racking my brain on a way to honor him at his memorial. My uncle was a lifetime IBM employee and computer pioneer.

In 1979, when I was 9 years old, he gave me a banner for my birthday. It was from the old dot matrix printers. It had a silhouette of Snoopy on the top of his dog house and it said “Happy Birthday Chimene”. I literally thought it was the coolest thing. This was before home computers and home printers for our family. The letters were made with x or o or maybe dashes. Because my brain had no conceptual framework for the world of computers, I literally wondered if it was created by magic.

I would like to have one of these made for my uncle for his memorial. Do you have any idea how I could go about getting this done? I am not tech savvy so I would love to find someone that can do this for me and do it quickly. I know that there would be no better way for me to honor my uncle and I am desperate to find a way to get this done. Any help you can provide would be so greatly appreciated.


Post your suggestions or offers to help in the comments, and Chimene will keep an eye on them. I’ll pass along your email address (leave it in the comment form) if she wants to contact you further.

[Update – I helped Chimene construct a banner using “banner” for *nix systems and an old Snoopy ASCII art drawing. She later sent me a photo of the print-out, which she used at the service. ]

10 Responses to “Woman Needs Help with ASCII Banner for Uncle’s Memorial”

  1. Jim Says:

    For the text, try “printerbanner” in Linux:
    echo “Hello World” | printerbanner
    Adding an image is a bit trickier, but it’s something you can just paste in in a text editor if you find an ASCII version of what you want. The even harder part will be finding a dot matrix printer you can send it to!

  2. Rowan Lipkovits Says:

    I’ve invited the folks at ACiD, the textmode artwork authorities, to weigh in.

  3. Brian Says:

    In the early 80s my family used a DOS program called Printmaster to make posters and greeting cards on our dot matrix printer. Last Fathers Day I found an abandonware site with that application, ran it in DOSbox, designed a card, and captured a screenshot of the finished product since I couldn’t figure out how to print from DOSbox. I then printed the screenshot and voila!

    Surely this could be replicated for a large poster at Kinkos.

    I’m hesitant to post a link to abandonware here, even for 33-year-old obsolete software, so I’ll advise you to search for “print master abandonware dos”.

    Alternatively, I hope Rowan Lipkovits’ comment above bears fruit! Nobody holds a candle to ASCII\ANSI art made by the artists at ACiD, aka ANSI Creators In Demand. Well, except for their equally talented rival ICE, Insane Creators Enterprises!

    Regardless, my congrats to your uncle!

  4. Lawrence Says:

    There look to be a few websites that do it, and some software too.

    It all depends on what you want to do, and what size. As a banner, I’d imagine you’d want it to be pretty big.

    The best website I could find was this:


    You just link an image or upload one from your computer, set the size to as big as you want (it doesn’t go very big on the site unfortunately), and the font size. You then hit the send button, and it’ll generate a new webpage with the ascii art of the image, which you can then print normally.

    Another alternative, which provides muuuuch bigger images is a piece of software called Ascii Generator 2 for Windows you can find here:


    Hit the download button, wait until it downloads automatically (the “download” links after you’ve hit the download button are misleading as they’re actually ads for other websites), and then unRAR the file and load it up. You can then load an image, and then create a size up to anything X 999 (the maximum) and print your image.

    Hope that helps!

  5. Benj Edwards Says:

    Just so you guys know, she’s talking about a “banner” as in a long sheet of unbroken, 8.5″ wide tractor feed paper. People used to print out banners on them using software like Print Shop.

    I’ve been looking for old Snoopy on top of his doghouse ASCII art to see if I can find the one her uncle used (circa 1979, remember). If anyone else wants to help look, post your suggestions below.

  6. VileR Says:


    I believe this sort of thing (1979) was way earlier than Print Shop – Print Shop was low-res graphics, rather than pure ASCII text.

    In fact, I remember my dad bringing home similar print-outs from work when I was very young. Not sure about the type of printer, but it wasn’t dot-matrix. Large ‘letters’ were made up of monospaced “X” characters, and they were printed on continuous paper, but it was wider than 8.5″ and the orientation was what we’d nowadays call “landscape” (as opposed to portrait). Something like this, except that it was perforated: http://www.officedepot.com/a/products/813238/Office-Depot-Brand-Computer-Paper-1/

    The style was quite similar to this: http://artscene.textfiles.com/rtty/COLLECTION/ARTWORK-06/1926

    You can get similar output using this online ASCII generator. Input your text and select the font “banner 3” from the menu: http://www.network-science.de/ascii/

  7. anonymous joe Says:

    I don’t think she needs ‘suggestions’ per say.. she just needs a referral to someone that can do this!

    As she says: “Do you have any idea how I could go about getting this done? I am not tech savvy so I would love to find someone that can do this for me and do it quickly.”

    She just needs someone local to her with a vintage printer (either dot matrix or letterhead) and paper to do it for her. I’m sure plenty of us out here have these things.

    Yes, a laser (or inkjet) multi-sheet printout taped together would do it, but as she says, she’s not tech savvy, she’s not about to figure out abandonware, is highly unlikely that she runs any form of *nix, etc.

    Since you did not share her location or any way to contact her… (and are just going to forward our addresses..) this is getting down to a really tight squeeze.. even if you were to share our addresses with her, she still wouldn’t know which way to go.. c’mon people two days… it’s gotta be local (or fedex’ed overnight..)

    the only real question is.. what does she want it to say? surely someone can easily print this out and get it to her.

  8. Judith Says:

    Benj, for future reference, this is easy for us at the 1401 Restoration Project, and I’m sure the guys would have been happy to help for an ex-IBMer. – I’m not sure there’s enough time to do something at this point. So send anything like this directly to me in the future. I’ve forwarded this to one of our people just in case, so please send me Chimene’s contact info just in case. I suppose something could be sent via overnight. Of course, it will have to be on 14″ IBM tractor feed, I think.

  9. Benj Edwards Says:

    Here’s an update. I’ve helped Chimene find an ASCII art Snoopy she likes and I’m making a text file she can print out and tape together to make a banner (she’s happy with that in the short amount of time available).

    Also, I bet you’re right, VileR. It may have been printed using a wide carriage letter quality impact printer, not dot matrix. Chimene seems to be happy with reproducing the general idea and not necessarily replicating what she had as a kid.

    THanks for the suggestions, everyone!

  10. Raylene Says:

    Hello! I see these comments from 2013… as I’m searching for a way to have a ‘Happy Birthday’ banner printed out on the continuous paper with the holes on the side and perforated. My parents used one every year for our birthdays… I think the text was in a light blue and there might have been images of balloons on one or both sides… in lighter almost pastel colors. Anyway – I’d LOVE to have one printed for my family to use for our kids. Would anyone be able to help me out? Please email me if so (name) + nicole (at) gmail

    I would SO appreciate any help you can provide!

    Thank you,

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