View Full Version : Does anyone still use parallel ports? For what?
11-03-2006, 12:56 AM
I was just reviewing the doc on a new Dell workstation I'd ordered, and was... well, not surprised, but erm... ok, surprised... to see that there's still a parallel port on this box. http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/ws690/en/ug/about.htm#wp1055861
OK, it's a $5k workstation, so I'd expect Dell to throw in ports of every sort, because customers will expect it. But still -- does anyone use parallel ports for anything these days? Hasn't it been quite some time (5 years... more?) since printers used anything but USB?
The RS232/422 ports I can (just barely) justify, since I work in a field where folks hook up video decks to these ports. But there are USB<->serial solutions that work if there are no serial ports, so I'd expect these to atrophy sooner or later.
Who speaks for the parallel port? Come forth, and defend it!
11-03-2006, 02:29 AM
Still use it, but pretty much for printers only. I'm not sure what else you'd use it for on a PC.
We use the one on the network hub for the printer as it frees up a network port for another PC (the printer can take network, USB or parallel, and its fairly modern: <2 years), but that's about it.
11-03-2006, 02:40 AM
I tinker with PIC Microcontrollers (for robotics, etc) now and again, the programs are compiled on the PC and sent to the chip via a parallel port cable. If it wasn't for that, I wouldn't use mine.
I support a legacy MS-DOS based remote visualization app for a control system that's not been installed for a decade now but that still has hundreds of installations working (it's for power plants that typically work for a decade or two with just scheduled mechanical maintenance). The visualization app (development of which has been frozen by its vendor) is copy-protected by a parallel-port dongle; the routines querying the dongle work on a pretty hardware-near level so working with a parallel port emulation via USB won't work.
11-03-2006, 04:36 AM
I still have a parallel-port printer too. bought it, hmm, around 6 years or so, when I had my first laptop. Still going strong.
11-03-2006, 04:53 AM
They are still used for PROM/EPROM/FPGA programmers. Lots of these devices were designed to run off parallel ports.
Alive At Both Ends
11-03-2006, 06:22 AM
At work we recently bought a new digital storage oscilloscope with the ability to print to an external printer. It only had a parallel port and we had to ask around to find a colleague who had a parallel printer we could borrow.
Really Not All That Bright
11-03-2006, 10:38 AM
I bought an HP Deskjet two years ago which only had a parallel port.
11-03-2006, 11:09 AM
I have a 2000 Lexmark Z-51 printer that still uses the parallel port. Still works like a charm. I have to admit to not having any idea what the other ports are for. Never used 'em, never expect to.
11-03-2006, 11:15 AM
I suppose technically I do. I bought my laser printer back in 1999 for my Apple laptop, which had a standard Apple printer port (little round connector). When that laptop died, I bought a new Titanium Powerbook, which no longer had the Apple printer port. So, I had to buy this special cable (made by Belkin, I think) that allowed me to connect the parallel port of the printer to the USB port of the laptop.
I'm still using that laptop, but now the parallel-USB cable goes from the printer to my wife's PC, which shares the computer so that my Mac can print to it over wireless. So, printing for me goes, Mac laptop -> wireless connection -> desktop PC -> USB port -> USB/Parallel cable -> printer's parallel port. Ain't patch jobs grand?
11-03-2006, 11:36 AM
I know this computer(macbook) doesn't have one, but I'm fairly sure my other laptop does. I don't think i have anything that uses a parallel port right now, but it always drives me nuts when computer manufacturers decide a piece is obsolete(I love the floppy drive, damn it!)
11-03-2006, 11:56 AM
I have an HP Color Laserjet 2500 that uses a parallel port. It's only about 2 years old. I also have a wide carriage inkjet printer that is USB, but for which I purchased a USB-to-parallel adapter so I could free up the USB port on the computer for other things (I eventually sucked it up and bought a board with 3 more USB ports and two Firewire ports - I don't know why, but it seems like every time I purchase a USB device the manual says it can't be put on a hub, so many ports it is).
11-03-2006, 12:59 PM
I have an external CD-ROM burner, one of the first ones, that runs off of the parallel port. We didn't have no stinkin' USB in my day, get off my lawn!
It still works great (even though it only burns at 2x speed) and is still convenient to have whenever I need a portable drive to take somewhere. I call it "Old Yeller", since the plastic is getting discolored, but it is the most reliable drive I have ever seen, if there is a flaky CDR or scratched up disk that won't play anywhere else, this drive is guaranteed to be able to still play it and recover the data. It's rugged as hell, too, it's been dropped dozens of times.
Sit Yeller, sit! Good drive! *pats its housing*
11-03-2006, 01:39 PM
I use paralell ports to send my cargo out in ships when I want the ships to depart at the same time and not collide. Got no other use for 'em.
11-03-2006, 04:48 PM
I use paralell ports to send my cargo out in ships when I want the ships to depart at the same time and not collide. Got no other use for 'em.I don't think parallel ports would work for that. Perhaps a paradox? <bum-puh-ching!>
11-03-2006, 05:07 PM
IBM / Lenovo has only decided in the past year that parallel isn't worth putting into laptops. They put one in my T43 Thinkpad that's less than a year old, but the current T60 doesn't have one. All's not lost - just pop the thing into a port replicator and you can have a parallel port that way.
No idea if it's actually directly supported in the hardware, but the port's just not in the case, or if the replicator fudges it through USB.
11-03-2006, 05:19 PM
I think that people are unwilling to get rid of higher quality laser printers which require a parallel connector (do they make a USB to parallel converter?)
Also I have a "Expansion Port 2" on my laptop, what is that?
11-03-2006, 05:20 PM
Last year, I had to use a parallel port to use my printer under Windows, because it absolutely refused to detect it when I attached it with USB(Linux, on the other hand, had no problems with USB :dubious: )
11-03-2006, 05:28 PM
Both my work printer (a Compaq LJ600 that we got for free with a computer in 2001; shows how much I rate) and my home printer (an aging Epson Stylus color 600) still run off parallel.
Likewise, one of the data acquisition systems my company uses in the field is a veritable museum of bizarre interface choices. The main real-time computer in the system does not use the parallel port for printing; instead the port is used to drive a little box containing an audible alarm and warning light. Why? 'Cause back in the day, computer speakers were not loud enough for anyone to hear a system alarm when it went off. Why not use a serial port for the purpose? Well, because we used them for...other things.
So what if we wanted to print? Well, then we'd hook up a custom-made rack containing a bank of HP-IB cards (anybody remember the Hewlett-Packard Interface Bus? Huh? Huh?) linked to a bunch of inkjet printers that could print continuous paper. Unfortunately, color printers that print continuous paper being somewhat thin on the graound these days, all that has kind of fallen by the wayside.
11-03-2006, 06:01 PM
My emergency backup printer (a nearly 12 year old Canon) is parallel-port; also, I still run an almost-decade-old legacy-system external Iomega ZIP drive that's on my LPT1 permanently (probably to be retired upon my next system upgrade). I'd wager there's a lot of legacy components out there that folks like me, or obsessive-to-the-penny corporate beancounters, are not going to write off as long as it is physically useable for its intended purpose.
My current main printer (a HP) has a parallel interface but it works much, much better and easier with the USB.
11-03-2006, 10:12 PM
(do they make a USB to parallel converter?)(yes!) (http://sewelldirect.com/usbtoparallel.asp)
11-03-2006, 10:29 PM
Likewise, one of the data acquisition systems my company uses in the field is a veritable museum of bizarre interface choices. The main real-time computer in the system does not use the parallel port for printing; instead the port is used to drive a little box containing an audible alarm and warning light. Why? 'Cause back in the day, computer speakers were not loud enough for anyone to hear a system alarm when it went off.
Actually, you're thinking of the mouse port which connects to the EAB. ;)
Anyhoo, my new employer uses a dongle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dongle) which can only connect through a parallel port
I use the one on my desktop system for a dongle for Cubase.
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