【Fujitsu】 FACOM 642 Line Printer

This was a line printer from Fuji Tsushinki Manufacturing Co. (currently Fujitsu Ltd.) which realized high-speed printing by using a type drum based on a new manufacturing system, and a flag bit control system for improving effective printing speed. The company had consistently developed line printers using the type drum system, and that technology came to fruition with the FACOM 642 printer which was completed in March 1966. In terms of performance, reliability and other points, this printer achieved the highest level for a mechanical printer at the time. It had the following features:

1) It achieved a maximum printing speed of 1,500 lines per minute (when printing with 16 character types) by increasing the speed of type drum rotation and paper feed, and employing the flag bit control system.
2)  It achieved high-level reliability and stable operation.
3) It achieved easy-to-read, beautiful printing quality by using a high-precision, long-life type drum based on the photo-etching method and special finishing of the type surface, a print hammer mechanism finished to high-precision and low friction, and a hammer magnet having uniform operating characteristics.
4) The number of characters printed in one line was set to 136, and a maximum of 128 different kinds of printing type could be used. Techniques were devised to adapt the character set array on the type drum to various applications. High-speed printing was achieved through early detection of the finish of a line printing by using the flag bit system. The drum with standard printing types made it possible to use the printer for wider range applications.
5) At the time, there was an increasing need to distribute slips/checks printed with a line printer at distribution sites etc., to recover them according to business situation, and to re-input them into the computer by reading them with an OCR (Optical Character Reader). Printing of OCR characters was made possible for the first time by using this high-precision type drum.
FACOM 642 Line Printer Specifications
Completion date FACOM 642A/B March 1966, FACOM 642K/L March 1968
Printing system Type drum system
Printing speed
  • 16 character types (numerals+6 symbols): 1,500 line/min
  • 42 character types (numerals+ 6symbols+26 alphabetic letter): 1,000 line/min
  • 62 types: 500 line/min
  • 17 character types (numerals+7 symbols): 1,000 line/min
  • 43 character types (numerals+7 symbols+26 alphabetic letter): 500 line/min
  • 109 character types (include Kana): 500 line/min
Character types 62 character types: Numerals (10),Alphabetic letters (26),
Symbols (26)
109 character types: Numerals (10),Alphabetic letters (26),
Symbols (26),Kana (47)
Number of printed characters 136 char/line
Connected models A: Systems up to FACOM 230-50
K: FACOM 230-60 System
B: Systems up to FACOM 230-50
L: FACOM 230-60 System

FACOM 642A Line PrinterFACOM 642A connected to a FACOM 230-50 System