How to connect an old printer without USB to a current PC

Today it is not very common to see a printer without USB, especially in homes; however, there are a large number of businesses that continue to use the still slow but reliable stylus printers to print thousands of packing slips and invoices every month of the year like the first day. The problem? Current computers lack the necessary connector for this.

It’s hard to see any printer these days still using the old parallel port for peripherals in use. More than anything due to the fact that they are extremely slow to print complex documents, at high resolution, and with a lot of color. However, we can still find them in many businesses in our country giving the callous as the first day despite their seniority.

connect an old printer without USB to a current PC

How to connect a printer without USB to your PC

One of the good things about the USB port is that it has generic drivers for a large number of devices. Although they do not allow you to take advantage of the unique characteristics of each model, you can use the general characteristics and among these profiles are the printers and this will allow us to use our old model without problems without the most used connector today. from today.

The difficulty comes when the old computers with these ports have been disappearing over time and with it the support for the old technologies. Although it is possible to use a USB parallel port adapter to connect the device, the problem comes from the interaction between the computer itself and the peripheral. In any case, it is important when buying the adapter to choose one for the parallel port that our printer uses, since some models used a parallel port with a female type connection and others with a male type.

Puertos E/S Centronics

Printers without USB were more complex

Most of the printers of yesteryear were used in text-only environments, many dating back to the bygone days of MS-DOS text interfaces. Especially with the old stylus printers, which are the ones that have stuck around in a lot of businesses, while manufacturers moved to inkjets in the 90s and it’s been a hell of a lot ever since.

The old non-USB printers connected to computers limited enough that the device itself had to have an entire PC to handle document printing. This made them extremely reliable in the face of common computer shutdowns. Today, the power of a PC is 10,000 times greater and this same is in charge of managing printing using a tiny percentage of the hardware. In the image below these lines, you can see a complex motherboard for a printer of yesteryear, which integrates all the circuitry of a complete computer.

Placa vieja impresora

The Plug and Play problem and the solution to the problem

Today we are used to hot plugging a peripheral and letting the PC know everything about it. On the other hand, a few decades ago this could not be done and it was even necessary to turn off the peripheral and sometimes even the PC itself.

The big problem with connecting an old printer to a USB port is that since there is no device ID or anything like that, then the operating system does not know what type of peripheral is in front of it and cannot interact with it. The most frequent solution? Use an LPT to USB converter that has the necessary hardware so that the PC can treat the device as one of its kind using the generic USB driver.