Things I miss: the music of dot matrix printing


Originally published at:


What I miss is feeding long, flatfold documents through the shredder. It’s strangely satisfying like popping bubble-wrap.


Nope, i don’t miss the paint shredding sound of dot matrix printers at all. Don’t miss the deafening roar of the daisy wheel printer that got me through college either. Or the slow, slow speed of either. I own a colour laser, so I don’t miss buying overpriced ink and watching the printer use it all up to “clean” itself anymore, either.

Some things are absolutley not worth missing, and obsolete printer tech is definitely one of them.


Way cool. We used to “play” Christmas carols on the line printers at work. I never thought to try it on my dot matrix at home. Thanks for posting this.


Of course when it comes to obsolete printer tech, it’s hard to beat the hot type Linotype machine…


The best printer music ever IMHO is still Man Or Astro-Man’s “A Simple Text File”. Here’s a live performance of it.


They still make dot matrix printers. USB connectivity and everything. They’re just really marked up, because the only people who use them anymore are huge businesses that already pay big money for everything else.



Agreed. I don’t like loud noises, and I’ll take:
vrrt, vrrt, vrrt, vrrt, vrrt, vrrt, vrrt, vrrt, ahhhhhhhh
any day, over:


The User, Symphony #2 all day,


Yes, for printing carbon copies. That’s the only reason they still exist- for use cases where you absolutley have to make duplicate paper copies of a form that also has to be partially filled out by hand. (Otherwise you just use a laser printer and print three copies with different coloured strips on the side to distinguish the file copy from the customer copy from the original)


That’s about what the price was in 1991, when I bought my last ImageWriter.

The reason that they cost so much is that China hasn’t spent the last 25 years making them cost less.


I still dread the memory of the old reimbursement form that we used to use. Two sided heptuplicate. Some of the people who got the form weren’t entitled to all the information on it (like SSN numbers) so those sections were blacked out on their copies. After filling out the front, you carefully removed the six carbon papers, reversed them and filled out the back.


The recommendations on the right gutter for that video are a portal into a particularly fantastic province of youtube music…


They can still be found now and again.
Car dealers still seem to use those for the last giant form that you have to sign.
Don’t go to Jiffy Lube, that’s a bad idea, but if you do, I bet they still have them at the front desk for their form.


I think you mean NCR: No Carbon Required
But in either case, an impact printer is required.


Carbonless copy paper (CCP), non-carbon copy paper, or NCR paper (No Carbon Required, taken from the initials of its creator, National Cash Register) is a type of coated paper designed to transfer information written on the front onto sheets beneath. It was developed by chemists Lowell Schleicher and Barry Green,[1] as an alternative to carbon paper and is sometimes misidentified as such.


Every time I learn a new piece of code I wish for a dot matrix printer and fan-fold green bar paper so I can get it all out in front of me, just to build that first mental map. Find an empty room, lay it all out on the floor or pin it to the wall, and start making divisions and connections. It never seems to work out that way, given the total absence of dot matrix in my life.


wow much better quality than I thought.


Yes, it’s even polyphonic!


I wish I had the necessary skills to get a teletype and turn it into a workable printer.


I will seriously miss popping bubble wrap as well, now that poppable bubble wrap is being discontinued.