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Last Updated: Friday, 20 January 2006, 17:50 GMT
Click Tips
Rob Freeman
By Rob Freeman
Click tip-ster

Rob Freeman, Click's very own Mr Fixit, troubleshoots your PC problems.

Sometimes when things work you just do not want to get rid of them. Why throw away something that is working perfectly well, just because it is old?

This is what Fiona McEwan, from the UK, thinks:

I recently changed my operating system to Windows 2000 and I cannot find new drivers to run my printer. It's an Apple Personal Laserwriter NTR. I don't see why I should buy a new one when the old one works.

Ah, the venerable Apple Laserwriter, yet another pioneering Apple product.

A mass-market Laser printer, produced in the late 1980s when many other manufacturers were churning out dot matrix printers and daisy wheel printers - does anyone remember daisy wheel printers?

The Laserwriter product range is part of the reason why desktop publishing became so cheap and easy, and ubiquitous.

I am glad you have still got it, and I am glad it still works, but I think 12, nearly 13 years is starting to push things a bit.

Spares are hard to come by, the price of toner cartridges for old models is more expensive, and, as you point out, it is more difficult to find drivers as you upgrade the rest of your kit. And it only prints only three, maybe four, pages a minute.

However, you are not alone in still using it. These workhorses just keep going. Being discontinued by Apple many years ago has not stopped it still being in some way supported by much newer operating systems.

Your Laserwriter is old enough to be Apple OS X's great, great, great grandfather.

Yet OS X includes a driver for the Personal Laserwriter NTR. Not to be outdone, so does Windows XP (see the link on the right-hand side of this page).

But it is not just software drivers which can become incompatible. As the years fly by, hardware technologies change too. Like many printers of its time, these have just a parallel and serial connector, though nowadays, these are getting harder to find on newer models.

Nancy Jordan also asked:

We have a new PC and an old printer - the printer only has a parallel port and the computer only has USB ports and no parallel. Can you help?

And Nicole Jefferies wanted to know:

My father has an old PC and needs a printer, but he only has parallel points not USB, but all the printers I've seen only have USB connections. Can you help?

You see parallel ports less partly because they are slow, and partly because they take up too much space. You will be hard pushed to find them on a diminutive laptop.

However, you can get converters for both parallel - also called a Centronics connector - and serial connectors, to change them into handy USB plugs.

And that is how to have a 12-year-old printer and still keep it running!

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