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ca. 1959 - S-C 5000 High Speed Electronic Printer, with cabinet open, to show interior assembly




ca. 1959

The S-C 5000 High Speed Electronic Printer, with cabinet open, to show interior assembly. Reference to the accompanying schematic drawing will identify the various components of the equipment.

[above referenced schematic drawing not found in the collection]

related image 52.022

Original Caption by Science Service
Stromberg Carlson Company
A Division of General Dynamics Corporation




additional reference information:

There are very few computer users left who still can recall the frustration of having to wait for a printout. For instance, around 1953-1954, at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), the first printers used in conjunction with the UNIVAC I--our first computer--were nothing more than typewriters with print rates of perhaps 6 characters per second. Since the typical output from a design calculation involved 50,000 to 100,000 characters, printing would take an inordinately long time. The quest for speedy printing at LLNL led us through a succession of interesting machines, one of which we relied on for about 10 years, starting in 1964. This was the so-called "Radiation Printer", an eccentric and demanding invention that met our computer printing needs for speed despite its own oddities.

To better appreciate what the Radiation Printer represented, it will be useful to consider first, the few printers that preceded it. I've already mentioned the use of suitably modified typewriters on the UNIVAC I. The IBM computers that arrived next had modified 407 accounting machines serving as printers. They were rated at 150 lines per minute, a line being up to 132 characters wide. They were also far too slow to meet our needs. As I recall things now, IBM never included faster printers for its initial computers. If you dealt with IBM, these 407s were what you got; a Hobson's choice.

One of our first attempts to get something faster than these printers arrived from Remington Rand around 1957. This was a 600-line-per-minute impact printer, where a line included any number of characters from 0 to 120; each page held about 50 lines. As fast as this was, it was still too slow to serve the needs of dozens of people who spent too much of their valuable time waiting for results. Also, when these so-called impact printers ran, the noise level was dangerously high A few intense users lost some of their hearing from standing in front of the printer, anxiously trying to read their output as it was being printed. In addition to being very noisy, impact printers were not sufficiently reliable, so we sought other solutions.

We tried a marriage of cathode ray tubes and xerography: The SC5000 built by Stromberg Carlson in 1959. This device formed characters by projecting an electron bean [sic] through a character mask, creating a spatial distribution of electrons then formed the selected character when plotted on the screen of the CRT. The SC5000 further selected where to position the character along the print line. The light thus generated was projected onto a selenium-coated drum that is fundamental in the xerographic printing procedure. In this process, after the image was formed on the selenium drum, it was dusted with xerographic powder ("toner"), which adhered only where the light had suitably charged the surface. By bringing paper in contact with the drum, the image was transferred. The paper then moved through an oven where the powder was fused to the paper. Input to the printing system was via magnetic tape.

by George Michael
Editor's note: This is an expansion of an article that appeared in CORE 1.4,
a Computer Museum History Center publication, in November, 2000.
Used here with the permission of the Computer History Museum.

Source: <http://computer-history.info/Page4.dir/pages/Radiation.Printer.dir/index.html >

National Museum of American History


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