IBM 1403 chain printer

IBM 1403 line printer

The IBM 1403 line printer was introduced in 1959 as a peripheral of the 1400 series. It was an extremely long-lived product, it was still used in the time of /370 systems. Its success can be attributed to the simpler and more flexible design and the chain mechanismused instead of the earlier drum solutions. It was developed in the same period as the ball-head typewriter, primarily due to its interchangeability.

The most important element of the assembly is the 240-character long printing chain, with elements which became replaceable in later models. With this, the same result was achieved as with using ball heads on typewriters - the system of symbols became changeable: standard, lowercase, uppercase, scientific, bank specific, target program dependent signs, national symbol sets, accented characters, etc.

The printer was manufactured with widths of 100 or 120 positions, with a speed of 600/1100 lines per minute. In the case of special symbols, the speed was somewhat lower. The speed was also influenced by the number of repetitions on the 240 character places.

The standard ink ribbon was used for inking, allowing two-colour printing, as opposed to the inefficient and expensive canvas reel using custom ink solutions on drum printers.

The paper used is a single or multiple copy folded paper, with perforation at the edges for fast movement and vertical synchronization (carriage tape).

Over the years, different peripherals were created for the printer: perforation removers, sheet cutters, folders, envelope makers, etc. The chequebook maker for example was a usual extension used by banks. Bookbinder or copier interface applications were also made. Among the more interesting uses were the creation of a Mona Lisa picture or the music application which used the sounds emitted by the printer to play a music score.

It was an easy-to-handle line, low-priced, high-speed line printer.