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New pack lets Wigwam slip into future (sidebar)

Getting computers to communicate
FILED IN:  Machinery  > Labeling

One of the most vexing problems in Wigwam's installation of the Avery Dennison Soabar print/apply labelers was having them communicate with Wigwam's mainframe computer. The host computer which stores the variable data needed for labeling employs a computer language called EBCDIC. The Datapply printers take direction in ASCII. Dwayne Parkinson Wigwam programmer analyst not only had to solve the language translation he also had to find a way the host computer could control two printers simultaneously. Avery supplied a 908 printhead that Parkinson hooked up to Wigwam's AS/400 computer for testing. They also supplied printer control codes and a contact at another manufacturer that had earlier overcome a similar compatibility problem. This MIS expert supplied technical input to Parkinson that allowed him to complete the set-up of the printers (i.e. characters per inch tabs lines per inch etc.). The compatibility was assured through the use of an ASCII controller that converts the data. "We use an RS422 connection to get data from the controller to the printer" Parkinson explains. "Modems at the printer then convert RS422 into RS232." Meetings between Parkinson and Avery Dennison Soabar technicians paved the way toward achieving simultaneous communication. The specific details of this solution remain like much of electronics science best left secret.

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