Mainframe hard copy graphics??

I was reminded earlier today of a bit of old tech - special printing from mainframes to produce pictures, with each character position acting like a pixel. The darkness of each pixel could be set by which letter, number or symbol was typed into that position. If that wasn’t dark enough, the printer could be instructed to “overtype” another character in that position. As I recall, NASA had a standard for which characters to use, in what order, to get a “pixel” to a certain level of dark ink coverage. I also recall NASA used this to print satellite data and make images of Mars or whatever, before photoprinting was common.

When I was in college in the late 70s many a dorm room had a picture like this. Einstein was a common subject. My picture was Snoopy the WWI Flying Ace.

Does anyone know the name for this outdated technology? Or have any examples on-line? I tried searching, but all I get is pictures of mainframes or teletype machines, not pictures from mainframes of teletype machines. The technology must have gone away with the advent of dot-matrix printers in the 80s, and that’s only - MY GOD IT’S THIRTY YEARS AGO!

Anyway, fellow Dopers, can you help an oldster out with a link to an example of this? My Google-fu is week tonight.

Are you talking about ASCII art?

I must mention ASCII Star Wars.

(paste this into *nix terminal: telnet

99+% of all ASCII art ever printed were pictures of naked women.

And technology FINALY served a useful purpose.

I remember my sister had a book of ways to make pictures using a typewriter. Instead of one character per space, though, you needed to set the backspace to 1/3 of a space, and then they’d overlap to give a stronger effect.

I was just doing some net searching about this a week ago.

I was looking for a Snoopy (!) calendar poster. Fist raised, “Curse you Red Baron!” with a calendar printed underneath. Was hoping to find the top part and add a current calendar underneath. But no luck. Apparently this was done by an entertainment pack IBM had for their mainframes way back when.

Of course the real pinacle of the art were the animated ones like the ASCII version of Bambi Meets Godzilla.

                              ..... ..
                          ..::xxx xxxxx:...
                 ....'x.xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx''''' :xxxxxx
                 ...:::....'''''''''''''       :xxxxxxx
                 :..::.....                    :'xxxxx
                  .:::....                     .:xxxxx
                   ::''''                      .:xxxxx
                   .      ....,,      ......    :xxxxx
                    .::'   xxx   ::'   ''':  .xxxx:
                 :.:   :::'mm'''x    .:'mm '.    'x''.
                 ::'     i:..:.:x     .'''.'     .::'
                 ::xi          xi                :::
                  :xx         xi                .::''
                  :x' .:.     /x.              .:::
                  '''....    /xxx.:xx.         ...:
                   ':....    '::''            ...:
                    ':...                      ...
                     :....  :..:ii:ii:..:     ...
                     ':....  ::.              ..:::
                      ':...   '''''''         .::::
                       .:...               . ..::::
                   ....:::.:...         .:::::'.xxxx::::....
          .....:::xxxxxxxx::::::......:::::'   .xxxxxxximmm::
     .::xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx:::::::::::::::'    .xxxxxxxxxmmmmmmm:
   .xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx'::::::::::::'   .'.:xxxxxxxx:xxxxxxxxxx
  .xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx '::::::::::'  .' .xxxxxxxxxx:mmmmmmmmmmm
 .xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  ':::::::' .'   .xxxxxxxxxxx:mmmmmmmmmmm
.xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx   ':::::'.'    .xxxxxxxxxxxx:mmmmmmmmmmm
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx   .'wwww.     .xxxxxxxxxxxxxx'mmmmmmmmmm
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.  .:wwwwww    .xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx:mmmmmmmmmm
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.  .:wwww' '   .xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx:mmmmmmmmmm
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  : 'ww'    '  xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.mmmmmmmmm
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx' :.wwww'     .xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx'mmmmmmmmmm

ASCII art, I’d say.

There’s also ANSI art from the BBS era (1980’s up till 1997 or so). This was based on the same concept of character as pixel but included color as well as a larger character set.

Thanks, everyone!

Apple has sample code which plays movies in an ASCII terminal.


Updated code:

Good point. I was confusing the two. ANSI allows color and animations on a screen (VT100 and the like).

To resurrect this thread a bit, there’s also such a thing as RTTY art, where RTTY stands for Radio Teletype, or the technology needed to send text over the air to automatic typewriters (the teletypes). This stuff was actually broadcast over-the-air; some of it goes back decades.

Here’s a fair-sized gallery of RTTY art.

Growing up with a BBS addiction, I thought the ANSI art kids were the coolest motherfuckers on the planet.

I tried desperately to figure it out but I’ve just never had an eye for art. Looking at this sitenow and I’m still blown away.