Printer Adapter Proposal

Printer Adapter Proposal

Printer Adapter Proposal

JoelGyllen at JoelGyllen at
Wed Sep 18 16:17:28 EDT 1996

To:   Members of the Printer Working Group
From: Joel Gyllenskog
      MicroWorks, Inc.
      6869 Kingsdale Drive
      Boise, Idaho 83704
      (208) 375-1234
      joelgyllen at

I read with interest Don Wright's posting to the PWG
regarding standards for the standard Printer Adapter
interface.  I think it is a great idea that would be of
value to almost every printer vendor.  I believe that a
standard printer adapter spec could be provided that
would really open the door and allow printer vendors to
reach markets that are currently out of their reach,
and for adapter card manufacturers to sell their cards
for use in many printers.  

Rather than have a standards body control the
development of the interface I suggest having a private
venture to manage and expedite the development process. 
A neutral firm would allow the printer and card
manufacturers to supply information without having it
go to their competitors.  Companies could insure that
their interests were being met without disclosing
sensitive data in a public forum.  The result would be
a spec that meets the needs of the participating
companies in a timely manner.  Individual participating
companies could provide input to the process and review
the spec to insure that it was compatible with their
needs.  When completed, the spec would be available to
the participating companies or any other companies that
were willing to license the spec.  At some point a
decision could be made to move the spec into the public
domain or to keep it as a trade secret available only
to those companies that choose to license it.

For a quick refresher, I served as the chair of the
Printer Working Group for its first two years.  At the
time I was an employee of HP and worked in the Network
Printer Division.  As you may know, I left HP in July
of 1995 after the firmware for the LaserJet 5Si was
completed.  At that time I resigned my position as
chair of the PWG.  I am a principal in MicroWorks, Inc. 
We have a number of customers, some of whom are in the
printer business.  Most of our employees are engineers
who have substantial experience in the printer
business.  At one time or another 4 of our engineers
worked at HP.  While I was at HP I worked on both sides
of HP's printer adapter interface.  I was the firmware
architect for the LocalTalk card that was used in the
4Si MX product and the 4M.  On this project we first
modified HP's spec to allow for other than print data
to be transmitted across the interface to the printer. 
I later worked on the printer side firmware on the 5Si
where I was on the team that put the code in place to
support the standard printer MIB.  Here the spec was
modified to allow queries and commands to be passed to
the printer in real-time.  For years I was on the
committee that drew up and expanded the printer
interface spec.  

Todd Jones, the president of MicroWorks, was the father
of network printing.  While at HP he was the architect
and implementor of the Bitterroot box--a metal box that
fit under a LaserJet.  That device had a PC board with
an ethernet card.  The PC booted off of ROM, acted as a
Novell printer server, and fed the print data via a
parallel cable to the printer.  The lessons learned on
that product allowed the LaserJet III Si to introduce
as the first network printer.  The JetDirect and
JetDirect EX are an outgrowth of the Bitterroot box.

Well, enough rambling.  I believe that the proposal for
a printer adapter interface is worth pursuing.  I
believe that MicroWorks can provide a vehicle for
moving it to fruition.  I believe that we can construct
an organizational framework that will be satisfactory
to the participants.  The organization can oversee the
development of the standard and make it available to
the participants.  The participants will benefit by
having an economical and practical standard that will
allow them collectively to reach critical mass in the

I'm anxious to get your feedback.  Reply by e-mail,
snail mail, or telephone.  Thanks,  Joel

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