July 18, 2021 2:46 AM   Subscribe

Want to make greeting cards and signs from your very own computer like you would have in 1986? emulates an Apple II running Broderbund's original release of The Print Shop in your browser, and when it prints out, generates a PDF you can then send to your printer!
posted by JHarris (42 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
What's a printer?
posted by acb at 3:22 AM on July 18 [4 favorites]

This is super wonderful and takes me back to the first time I fell in love with fonts, but I wonder if the print capability is overwhelmed with users right now.
posted by johngoren at 4:36 AM on July 18 [2 favorites]

Yeah, it's been thinking & printing for a while for me.

Also, for those who were curious about long-forgotten technology mentioned in the menu: KoalaPad.
posted by Johnny Assay at 5:00 AM on July 18 [5 favorites]

Wouldn't the PDF generation work entirely in the user's browser like the rest of the app?
posted by acb at 5:01 AM on July 18

~...but I wonder if the print capability is overwhelmed with users right now.
~Yeah, it's been thinking & printing for a while for me.

If there's a Windows machine handling the printing side, it may have been disabled due to Microsoft's recent advisory to disable the Windows print spooler. Apparently, the spooler also controls the print-to-pdf function.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:21 AM on July 18 [3 favorites]

No luck so far with my Win print spooler (here is how to mess with it). But I love the Screen Magic option, which really takes me back. I'm not sure how much younger people might appreciate how ever-present Print Shop banners, etc. were in classrooms.

I remember reading an article somewhere about how Print Shop was originally envisioned as a screen-only experience. But the founders of Broderbund convinced the programmers that they could take on the then-cutting-edge challenge of supporting all these different '80s printers out of the box.
posted by johngoren at 5:51 AM on July 18

Now you just need to find a consumer printer that can print off a roll.
posted by MrBobaFett at 6:27 AM on July 18 [3 favorites]

My geriatric millennial self is gonna make all the work signs with this and no one is going to get it.
posted by cobaltnine at 6:31 AM on July 18 [29 favorites]

I love the Print Shop UI. It's like 20 questions for print design. The Print Shop originally came out in 1984. WYSIWYG was a UI paradigm but that time but just barely, and not in common use. Particularly not on an Apple ][! So instead you get this linear question UI. It works pretty well!

The Print Shop Club is brought to you by Melody and April Ayres-Griffiths. They also produce Paleotronic Magazine, which I think is mostly about retrocomputing. Their announcement of Print Shop Club explains this is a demo of sorts of CyanIIde, a new Apple ][ browser-based emulator they are working on. "we realized that you can do nifty things with browser-based emulators, such as generate and download PDF files of Apple II print output". I haven't looked but I assume it's compiled to WASM.

BTW it's a little buggy with the interface with the browser for intercepting keyboard events, etc. It worked better for me in Chrome than Firefox.
posted by Nelson at 7:10 AM on July 18 [6 favorites]

I found that it took long enough that I clicked to another tab and I think it stops executing if it's in the background. I left it on top and kept the focus in the window and got my recreation of the sign I put in my locker as a teenager in about a minute.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:16 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]

OMG this makes me unreasonably happy!    :D
posted by mazola at 8:27 AM on July 18 [2 favorites]

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          |:.   |                | |_) | |_) |
          :. :  |                | | \ | |   |
          : ;   |                |           |
          : ;   |                | -mazola-  |
          : ;   |                |           |
          : ;   |                | THINKING  |
          : ;   |                | PRINTING  |
        .jgs. : ;                |           |
-."-/\\\/:::.    `\."-._'."-"_\\-|           |///."-
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posted by mazola at 8:53 AM on July 18 [12 favorites]

RIP Print Shop the only program on my aunt's Apple IIE that anyone in my entire family could figure out how to use; and by anyone I mean me, and I was 5. Thus establishing an unbroken precedent.
posted by bleep at 9:15 AM on July 18 [5 favorites]

We made everything on it. Birthday cards, signs to put on our bedroom doors and of course so many banners. Such a capable piece of software.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 9:18 AM on July 18 [7 favorites]

Funny how we've lost the ability to easily make banners as technology has evolved. RIP tractor feed printers. I made so many banners back in the day! About what? I can't remember. But I assume they were Very Important.
posted by veggieboy at 9:44 AM on July 18 [13 favorites]

Oh, also. That was on a Commodore 64. Drifting slightly off topic, this post also led me to reminisce about The Newsroom. I made my own newspaper when I was maybe 8 or 9! I don't remember as much as I'd like, but I do believe recess featured heavily in the coverage. (NO ONE WAS COVERING RECESS!)

Fast forward a decade and I went to journalism school and worked at actual newspapers where ... the software was maybe not as different as it should have been.
posted by veggieboy at 9:57 AM on July 18 [14 favorites]

Melody and April are doing neat things. I saw them demo their 3D Logo at Kansasfest last year. It all seems to start like an Apple II application, but then gets into some deeply wiggy in-browser 3D stuff.

Their non-browser Apple II emulator does some clever extensions, like colour printing from The Print Shop to PDF even on printers that didn't support it. I'm really not sure how they do that at all. Magic, I suspect.

It didn't seem very happy running on Firefox on Linux, stopping accepting keystrokes after a few screens. Oh well.

If you miss The Print Shop vibe, here are more than 30 disks of community-provided Print Shop clip-art: LOGIC Print Shop Disks. Each one should have every image broken out at original potato resolution as a PNG, as well as an index sheet. Some might be charitably called "okay". And no, there is no disk #24.
posted by scruss at 10:00 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]

Oh man, profane Print Shop hits for me exactly like profane needlepoint hits for others.

Although I'm not sure it'll quite get there without the ImageWriter output and tractor feed fuzzies.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:35 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]

Every birthday had a banner. I remember making one for our dentist. It was displayed in his office until they moved. I think the banner probably fell apart when they took it down.

I need to boot up our IIc and see if it still works. We even have an image writer printer and some pin feed paper. Sadly, it's probably impossible to get ribbons for it.
posted by kathrynm at 10:58 AM on July 18 [5 favorites]

I imagine a surprising number of ImageWriter printers are still laboring happily and noisily away in tow truck offices, warehouses and junkyards, so ribbons are actually still readily available for about six bucks.
posted by Nekosoft at 11:49 AM on July 18 [4 favorites]

When I was supporting some shops like that over a decade ago, they had all been forced into Okidata printers for support.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:04 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]

This brings back memories.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:06 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]

What's a printer?

It's a machine that makes piles of kindles that can only display one page
posted by mbo at 1:25 PM on July 18 [14 favorites]

This is the most fun that I've had since I got my hands on a Macintosh for the first time (128K, natch) and made invitations for a thing at college that used five different fonts, including the ransom-note one.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:27 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]

Apart from doing banners, the other awesome thing about tractor-feed printers was I'd bought this fuck-you big box of fanfold paper in (iirc) my first year of college. It was like 2500 or 3000 sheets. I'd hook up the printer's tractor feed to the box of paper sometime in August, and that was it, I was all set up for paper for the whole school year. Pretty sure that lasted me until my fourth year.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 1:40 PM on July 18 [4 favorites]

Yeah, if you're stuck in THINKING PRINTING, make sure you don't look at other tabs in the same browser window until it completes. Browsers don't run the emulator (and maybe all script execution?) unless the tab is on top.
posted by timdiggerm at 1:49 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]

Veggie boy: Yeah, The Newsroom helped cause me to go to journalism school too. I think the newspapers I printed off my Epson FX-85 in 8th grade were more fun than the ones I worked for though.
posted by johngoren at 2:01 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]

I had some kind of rudimentary page layout program for the ][gs....can't remember the name. The Newsroom doesn't sound right.

I did a family newsletter for a while, it was fun.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:15 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]

I had this, and amused my ninth-grade Biology class by drawing a caricature of the teacher and printing it out in landscape banner mode.

The Official Mr. Brown Mask -- Cut Out And Wear!
posted by delfin at 2:58 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]

I had a different version of this (on some Tandy IBM clone, around 1990) that told you what letter it was currently thinking about while it was processing. I think it also did mixed-case letters. It didn’t do the rainbow flashing thing, though.

For years, when someone in my family needed a little more time to answer some question, we would say “thinking about: W” and have a laugh about waiting for these silly banners.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 5:17 PM on July 18 [6 favorites]

My local Budget car rental office still uses dot matrix printers with the roll of paper, despite my repeated complaints. It's a pain to wait 4 minutes every time they have to fix a paper jam. But maybe I can get them to print a banner for me.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 7:13 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]

Dot matrix printers with duplicate/triplicate carbon paper forms is still very much a thing in certain sectors of business.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:08 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]

If the site hates tabs, you can probably give it its own window and even if it doesn’t have focus it should be ok.

Emphasis on ‘should.’ Flames to /dev/null (or its ProDOS equivalent).
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:21 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]

OMG star border and heart border. Used this quite a bit, as well as Broderbund's Bank Street Writer. BSW had a copy/paste function which I used for vocabulary homework wherein we had to write vocabulary words five times each.
posted by turkeybrain at 9:19 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]

Wow. This is the power of the subconscious mind--I had been carrying around a memory of The Print Shop for the last 35 years or so and was no completely unaware of it.
posted by zardoz at 11:40 PM on July 18 [4 favorites]

I was just looking to print out a card for this past weekend! Too late for this occasion, but now I can use this for the next one...
posted by Xoder at 8:14 AM on July 19

oh man now all I need is to be able to tear off the strips from the sides of the old printer paper banner and then fold it into little triangles that just get bigger and bigger until they stop being triangles
posted by jenjenc at 3:17 PM on July 19 [5 favorites]

When I was in middle school in the late 1980s we had a class business where we used Print Shop to make banners for people. It was the best. And I am thrilled about this new development!
posted by momochan at 4:01 PM on July 19

Banners banners banners! So many banners!

The font on the splash screen rocketed me back to our 1984 Commodore 64. Wow.
posted by bendy at 8:33 PM on July 19

At my school we didn't make little triangles, we folded two together in alternating squares to make a little paper spring. I think it's a damn shame kids don't get to do that any more.
posted by biogeo at 10:27 PM on July 19

My holiday cards last year were made in Print Shop on an actual Commodore 64. The printing situation wound up a bit complex because I had blown up my dot matrix printer in a botched repair attempt but I was able to make it happen with a somewhat convoluted mixture of modern and 8-bit technologies.

It does not surprise me that more than one recipient said they knew exactly who had sent the card before even opening it.
posted by majick at 10:13 AM on July 20 [2 favorites]

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