Vintage Commodore 1520 plotter

A Commodore 1520 plotter featured in this twitter post by the Commodore International Historical Society. Did anybody here use it?

The Commodore 1520 plotter used an ALPS printer mechanism controlled by a custom MOS chip to draw on paper with 4 colored pens. This example survived completely unopened to this very day with the packaging bags still sealed.


BTW, ALPS is my secret hero of the retro computer industry: great keyboards, so many great and useful components, which were essential to so many great products…


I remember seeing these little devices in the shops and wanting one. I saw it as an affordable printer which could also plot. I might well have been disappointed had I bought one, with the speed and the limited width. (I think the shop would have been a Tandy, known elsewhere as Radio Shack.)

(Very much later I was given an unwanted HP pen plotter, so eventually I did get my wish, of a hardcopy vector device, but as is typical, I never made any use of it. Although of course I still have it.)


Since the subject of the tweet is still unopened in its original box, what about going to the other extreme and having a look at said components, as in this teardown video?

And here it is in action (also for the now traditional noise test):

(Yes, @EdS, there may have been some disappointment involved.)

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Man, if I had had that alongside my daisywheel printer in the early 90s dot matrix era and could have produced economic diagrams in 4 colors, they would have thought I had a color laser printer at home.

“But Bruce, it wasn’t full width paper!”

Oh, it would have been full width paper all right, when I was done turning it 90 degrees. It might have been glued on the letter head paper with a gluestick, but back then we were mostly drawing our figures by hand on “appendix” pages anyway, and LITERAL copy and paste of the printed diagram onto the appendix page would have been a step up from that.