"Judge not lest ye be judged yourself." -Metallica, "Holier Than Thou"

The Great Commodore MPS Printer Curse!

Although “back in the day” there were dozens of third-party compatible printers, during my prime C64 years if you wanted a Commodore-brand printer there were essentially three models to choose from: the MPS-801, MPS-802, and MPS-803. Two of those printers were old VIC-20 printers updated with new case molding; the VIC-1525 and VIC-1526 were updated from “VIC-Creme” to “Commodore-Brown” and became the MPS-801 and the MPS-802, respectively. The MPS-803 came later, and was offered both in “C64 tan” and “C16/C+4 black”.

(Trivia fact: “MPS” stood for “Matrix Printer Serial”.)

To be sure, there were lots of other Commodore-compatible printers. I had friends that owned Okimate, Okidata and Epson printers and with the proper adapter you could even use IBM printers on your Commodore! There were also more than a few color printers (Commodore 1520, Epson Stylus, Okimate 20) and daisy wheel printers too, but most people considered the MPS-series to be the official Commodore printer.

There’s a reason Commodore’s line of MPS printers has been on my mind lately. Over the past few months, I’ve acquired one of each:

That’s an MPS-803 on top, with an MPS-802 on the bottom left and an MPS-801 on the bottom right.

“Retro printer collector” is not a demographic I particularly wish to be a member of. And I’m not, at least not intentionally. Each of these printers have been “gifted” to me as parts of larger collections. While I’m always grateful to receive them … I’m never sure what to do with them! As “hardcore” as I am, I can’t see myself ever printing from a retro system.

Like Dante’s Nine Levels of Hell, there too exists multiple levels of retrocomputing enthusiasts. The most basic level are those who enjoy modern remakes of old Commodore games (the recent Wiiware releases are a good example). On the next level you’ll find Commodore emulation. Past that are the guys who acquire and use original hardware. I suppose past that is the level where I’m at, the guys who are still buying new Commodore devices like the 1541 Ultimate and the ZoomFloppy. If you have ever connected a 1541 disk drive to a PC, you’re probably in this group. Somewhere though there’s a group of guys beyond that, guys who would actually take the time and put in the effort to get an old printer working. (If you’re that guy, let me know — I have some printers for you!)

The only thing keeping me from throwing these printers in the trash is THE PRINTER CURSE.

Yes, that’s right. I’m cursed. Every time I throw one of things away, two appear and take its place. When I threw one old printer away a few years ago, within a few months I had acquired two. I got rid of those by giving one away and hiding the other in a friend’s truck while he wasn’t looking. Now, I have three. I’m almost afraid to get rid of these three; I don’t have room for four.

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