Printing Device of the New Technology Age, Part 2

Fun with my new arrival from eBay, a lovely Brother EP-44 typewriter/printer…

You’ll remember a while ago I blogged about acquiring a Brother EP-22 typewriter/printer. I had a lot of fun with it, although it did have a few limitations – mainly the rather poor dot matrix printer style font, and limited ability to format the output. It didn’t support things like centring or underlining, either as a printer or as a typewriter, and attempting to right-justify when printing from a computer caused some problems with some letters not printing properly. Despite these limitations, the thing was a lot of fun to use, and I used it a lot – mainly as a typewriter, and mainly for writing to penpals.

Almost as soon as I got it, though, I regretted not holding out for the superior EP-44. It generally has the same features, but it also has a vastly superior 24-pin print head that provides a typewriter -style font. It also does things like centring and underlining, both as a typewriter and as a printer, and the letters don’t get messed up when printing justified text from a computer. The RS-232 port runs at a much faster 1200 baud, and communicates in both directions – I’m not quite sure how to make use of this, but I’ve already managed to get my ZX Spectrum to accept input from the EP-44’s keyboard!

I recently got a cable that allows me to hook the machine up to my Amstrad NC100, and that’s the machine I’m writing on as we speak. As per the EP-22 entry, I’ll print this up and place an image of the page on the entry, as well as the text itself. Now I have these assorted battery-powered bits of junk communicating, I truly have a retro-mobile-office! It’s a shame all of this coincides with everything being closed and not being able to go anywhere, but I fully intend to do very daft stuff with this when I can. I have images of myself sitting in Costa, drinking coffee and dealing with my correspondence, typing things up and printing letters on my ancient 80s gear, surrounded by hipsters on Macs. 🙂

It’s pleasantly surprising how useful a lot of this old kit is, and it’s certainly nice to be able to write without constant social media pings, and other distractions. This was something I recently covered in my new regular writing gig, the Slow Tech column in The Idler magazine. This little side hustle is a lot of fun. It’s nice to get paid for mucking around with stuff that would otherwise go straight into landfill.

The EP-44 is sufficiently superior to the EP-22 for me to think hard about whether I need to keep the more basic machine. The EP-22 looks a lot nicer in my opinion, because of the black case – beige is a very unappealing colour for tech, if you ask me – but I can’t see myself using it again. However, it doesn’t take up much space, so I’ll keep it for now. It might find a useful niche yet.

3 thoughts on “Printing Device of the New Technology Age, Part 2”

  1. The EP44 is a fantastic bit of kit. I actually like the style far better than the 22 (thought I do not have a 22). Beige is dull, but otherwise the lines are sharp and clean. Key touch is a bit odd — like a giant calculator or something. Works great with an old fax roll, too.

    1. Would you like my 22? I’m not convinced I’ll ever use it again, and I’m quite keen to free up space.

      The 44 is indeed awesome! It works really well as both a typewriter and a printer for vintage computers. I’ve got 500 sheets of thermal A4 paper from a UK office supplies company, so that’s me sorted for a while. I’ve also used 4.5 inch wide thermal rolls in it, which I use in a little thermal printer for my 8-bit computers. It’s all pretty flexible.

      The keyboard is indeed a bit strange, and it’s not as good as a lot of other machines of the day, but compared to the laptop I’m using right now, it’s still pretty decent, and does the job.

  2. I’d like a 22, thanks for the offer, but I am in Australia and I wonder what the postage would cost… I’ve tried out the 44 as a typewriter and printer, but also you can store up the 600-odd words in the memory and dump them into a computer using the serial line. Same serial line allows it to work as a serial terminal on DOS or Linux!

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