Return to main page
I [Ed Thelen] could not find any reference to "132 columns" and "printer" in:
so I offer the next best thing, the e-mail voices of Michael Albaugh and Bill Worthington
- the stone tablets that Moses brought down from the mountain
- the biblical book "Deuteronomy"
From Michael Albaugh, On Apr 29, 2016, at 11:06 AM, Ken Shirriff
> Does anyone know the history of why printers have 132 columns? Was the 1403 the first 132 column printer?
I used to have a Univac printer (From a Univac 7900, aka SS-90, but it was a printer originally made for the UNIVAC, back before there was more than one kind) with 130 columns. Close enough? :-) Hammer drivers were Thyratrons. 407s had 120 IIRC, and the printer for the 700 series (716?) was derived from them, right (looks at Steve Russel). So 1403 may have been first, although I do wonder if the choice was based on an existing "standard" for wide-carriage typewriters used for spreadsheets.
> Different models of the 1403 had 100, 120, and 132 columns.
Also 140, according to a reference I saw but can no longer find.
Possibly confused with the version that could also print cards (1404?)? That would make the 140-chracter "printer buffer stack" we have make a bit more sense.
> 100 and 120 are reasonable numbers, but why 132? With 14 inch paper and 10 characters per inch, 140 would make more sense than 132.
132 is 11 x 12. With "elite" type (12 cpu), 132 would _just_ fill a 8.5 x 11 sheet in landscape. See above about wide-carriage typewriters May also be why typewriters (and Teletype machines) typically had 72 columns (the strip-printers and such had an indicator for 72 columns, although I suppose it could have been intended as a margin warning.
By switching from "pica" (10 CPI) to "elite" (12 CPI), not so easy until the Varityper and later Slectric, you could do 80 columns on on 8.5" paper and still have decent margins. Similar need for some margin might lead to 132 column of U.S. "legal" size (8.5 x 14) in landscape, with 10CPI and some margin.
Then Bill Worthington added:
Here are the printer options from an IBM Printer Spacing Chart (10 spaces to the inch) for a variety of printers. I used these when programming the 1401 and other systems. Note that there are many different models.
IBM Printer Printer Spaces 407 120 1403 Models 1 & 4 100 1403 Models 6 & 7 120 1403 Models 2, 3. 5 & N1 132 1404 132 1443 Models 1, N1 & Model 2203 120 1443 Model 2 144
This shows how the spacing was varied, but not the reasoning behind it. With the 407's having 120 spaces, I would surmise that the 1403 had an option for a 10% increase based on customer demand.
Prior to the 1401 announcement, the 407 was a workhouse accounting machine for those who could pay more than for the 402/403/419 accounting machines.