Printer Adapter Proposal

Printer Adapter Proposal

Printer Adapter Proposal

JK Martin jkm at
Wed Sep 18 16:46:00 EDT 1996

Hi Joel,

Good to hear from you.  Speaking as a lowly software developer,
I have a couple of questions about your posting:

> 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.  

What markets are currently out of reach (or otherwise difficult
to penetrate) due to the lack of such an interface standard?
I'm just trying to get a better understanding of this situation,
as such a statement would appear to be a major, founding premise
for commencing such a standards effort (IMHO).

> 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.

Not being closely involved with hardware specifications processes,
perhaps I might be missing something here, but how can a private
venture really ensure confidentiality?

I mean, if company "A" tells the venture that feature "X" must be
in the spec--and the venture then adds feature "X" to the spec--
what keeps company "B" from saying, "Hey!  What is this all about??".
What is the venture supposed to say to company "B"?  Something like,
"Well, don't worry about it."  Or perhaps, "Sorry, but I can't tell
you anything about that."

Sounds very strange to me.  Again, perhaps this is because I have
not been closely involved with any such arrangement.  Can you say
whether this kind of arrangement has been successfully performed
in the past?  If so, can you cite the specific arrangement?

Hey, if such an arrangement really has been shown to work, then
I sure would like to see if it can be equally effective in developing
software standards.

> Todd Jones, the president of MicroWorks, was the father
> of network printing...

With all due respect, that might not be quite accurate.  There was
at least one company shipping a full-blown, state-of-the-art (even
by most of today's standards) way back in 1986 or 1987.

I'm sure Mr. Jones is a fine engineer with plenty of accomplishments,
and I certainly mean no disrespect.  I just wanted to make sure the
record is not misstated.

> Well, enough rambling.  I believe that the proposal for
> a printer adapter interface is worth pursuing.

Very interesting comments, Joel.  I personally have no problem with
the PWG starting up another project to pursue this initiative,
but that's just my opinion.

One thing to ponder, though.  When Don Wright first brought up this
concept to the mailing list, Bill Wagner immediately responded with
a tactful statement saying (in my words, now) how the printer interface
industry seemed to be doing just fine without such a standard.  Even
as a software developer, I think I accurately caught his drift...

Unfortuntely, no one else has spoken up (on either side of the fence)
since this idea was first raised.  What do other hardware vendors
think, especially the network interface card manufacturers?


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