Installing an old printer

I have been having difficulty installing an old HP Laserjet 4P printer on my computers here. The old Dell computer does not have a parallel port, so I tried several things. An HP printer server never worked right. A parallel to USB cable also never worked right. A Bluetooth adapter for a parallel port worked, but it made it difficult if not impossible to install the printer onto the computer. When I asked Bluetooth to find the printer, it reported the printer’s name as “UNKNOWUNKNOW”. Whatever I did, I couldn’t get it to find the printer as “HP Laserjet 4P”. Of course, the disks I had to install it were 3-1/2″ floppies, and I have no easy way to load them onto the computer.

So, step 1 was to swear a lot. Step 2 was to download the Windows 7 drivers from the HP website. Step 3 was to try to get the driver installer to find those drivers. Uh-uh. No dice. Nada. Nihil. Rien.

Step 4 was: repeat Step 1.

I then had a brainwave. Step 5: I edited the .inf file, deleted all the references to printers in the first part of the file except for the Laserjet 4P reference. I changed the name of this reference to “UNKNOWUNKNOW” and saved the file. I then right-clicked on the printer in the Bluetooth window, chose “Properties”, highlighted “UNKNOWUNKNOW” and chose “Properties” at the lower right hand corner, then “Change Settings” on the window that opened. This allowed me to update the driver, and when prompted I chose the .inf file. It then found the right driver from the file and installed it. I changed the name of the printer to “HP Laserjet 4P” and printed a test page. Voilá! There it was.

Now I’ve fallen somewhat behind on hardware. The days in the mid-1980’s when I had to manually plug memory chips into a circuit board are long gone. Putting together my own computer is now quite difficult; my current computer was put together by our friend BK in Singapore and I don’t believe I could do it now, at least not easily. But I’m grateful that I’m a software tester at heart, and able to keep plugging away at a problem until I’ve cracked it.

Why would I want an ancient Laserjet on my system? It’s very easy to feed envelopes into it, that’s why. To feed envelopes into the Photosmart I have to take out the tray, remove the paper, put in one envelope, close it up again, and print. The Laserjet has a slot in the front and a switch at the back which allows an envelope to pass through flat. It also works quite well for sheets of laser labels, which should not be allowed to bend in the printer as labels can become detached and end up on the laser drum.

I feel very accomplished. Next step: get the Photosmart’s scanner to pass through the firewall.

7 Responses to “Installing an old printer”

  1. trawnapanda says:

    did the swearing help?

    I’ve been informed somewhat sniffily that invective doesn’t help, but I find that venting is quite cathartic, and puts me in a better frame of mind to deal with the *#%&*@%$$+!

  2. chrishansenhome says:

    I’ve been informed somewhat sniffily that invective doesn’t help, but I find that venting is quite cathartic, and puts me in a better frame of mind to deal with the *#%&*@%$$+!

    I inherited my propensity for swearing from my grandfather, who employed it liberally when frustrated in doing something or other around the house. I find it helps. HWMBO doesn’t like it, so I do it under my breath when he’s around, and this doesn’t help as much as fully-throated swearing.

  3. wenchu38 says:

    May I ask, does Windows 7 support HP LaserJet 4P? I doubt so…

  4. chrishansenhome says:

    Yes, it does. HP has written drivers for it on Windows 7. It prints just fine.

    My only worry now is that it will become more and more difficult to get toner cartridges.

  5. smlee4 says:

    Thats great!! Kudos!

  6. wenchu38 says:

    you may want to get compatible ones if the HP original toners no more. my boss can provide one for you if you are in sg… 🙂

  7. chrishansenhome says:

    Thanks so much for the offer; I won’t be in Singapore for another year and a half or so (I’m aiming for a trip sometime in the fall of 2012). However, the secretary of my Masonic Lodge has a daughter-in-law who is in the ink and laser cartridge sales business, and she has some 4P cartridges, so I’ll probably buy two from her and that should see the laser printer out.