"Time Travel" aka Troubleshooting a Dot Matrix Printer in 2010

Took a ride with one of our consultants earlier this week to see a client who was having trouble printing checks from Sage MAS 90 to their dot matrix printer. Apparently, there had been a power outage a few days earlier, and ever since, their checks were printing out of alignment. It was an old Okidata ML 591..man I used to love those printers. You program them by holding down some buttons on the front panel of the printer and then the settings print on whatever paper happens to be in the printer at the time. To change the settings, you keep pushing the SET button until the “setting” you want prints. Once the setting you want prints out, you push another putton on the panel and it saves the setting. In the manual, it provides great detailed instructions for reinstalling the print driver through either Windows or DOS. In case you didn’t know, you can run Windows by typing “WIN” at a DOS prompt 🙂

It was (is) a great, sturdy printer…and its “programming language” was revolutionary…in 1994 (!)

I have to say, any $500 piece of equipment that remains useful, functional, and viable for over 15 years has to get props. Kudos to Okidata for making a printer that works that well and for that long.

Alas, we couldn’t get the check formatting back on line. The printer was “stuck” on the particular setting that was required to have the checks form feed correctly. We reviewed the options with the company controller — have a printer repair company come out and attempt to repair the printer (yee haw!), order a new Okidata ML 591 (they are definitely around), or…drumroll…use a laser printer to print checks. The controller opted for the laser printer option. The controller agreed that the laser printer would print faster, eliminate form feed issues and paper jams, require lower cost forms, waste less paper (think “GREEN”), be quieter when printing, and provide flexibility for printing other types of documents as well as the checks.

The laser printer will arrive in a couple days, and our client will be magically transported from 1994 to 2010 (at least for check printing purposes). Of course, I still can’t get over the Okidata lasting 15 years. I’ll miss it…. (stay tuned for my next blog on my favorite dot matrix printer ever – the Epson DFX-5000).