Old printer, new computer, will this work?
January 2, 2009 7:42 PM   Subscribe

Please help me connect my old printer (HP Laserjet 1100) to my new computer (HP 9400 running Vista). I think I'm almost there but need some help putting the last pieces into place.

I'm with the folks on AskMe who love old workhorse HP printers. Ours is still in fine form and I'm hoping to be able to make it work with our brand new computer.

First issue was finding a parallel-to-USB cable. Did that and when I plugged it into the computer it was recognized as new hardware, but the automatic search for a driver didn't find what was needed. There was an option to find/specify the driver manually but I don't know where to look--search doesn't turn it up.

HP's support site says the driver's on Vista already. And when I tried to "add a printer" through the control panel, the HP LJ 1100 is indeed an option. However, I can't figure out how to direct it through the USB--only ports offered are LPT# and COM#, which I don't think is what I'm looking for.

I don't know much about hardware and don't want to fuck up my new computer. After some googling (clearly I am not the first to have this problem) it seems like my options are:

1)Get and install a card w/a parallel port into my computer


2)Download a closely related driver (for the LJ 1100 for a different OS) and use that as the choice for the manual install


3)Give up and buy a new printer.

Suggestions? Workarounds? Will I fry my hardware if I try to send print jobs through this cable combo? Will my new operating system freak out if I use a different driver? Any and all answers appreciated!
posted by Sublimity to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Return the USB adapter.

Buy an external HP JetDirect 170x for $10-$15. Put the 1100 on your network and be blissfully happy at how amazing it runs.
posted by SirStan at 8:01 PM on January 2, 2009

It also sounds like you didnt install the USB adapter drivers.. which would be step one. But seriously.. 170x's are old HP network workhorses.. you will LOVE it. I have half a dozen at work on our hp1100/1200's.
posted by SirStan at 8:02 PM on January 2, 2009

If you absolutely want the USB adapter to work, then please post back with the model and brand. I will help you find the drivers.

In general, the way those adapters work is this:

1. Hook it up.
2. Load up the driver that comes with the device.
3. Head to the properties in Device Manager and check what LPT port the USB adapter is ... uh .. adapting.
4. Install a local printer to the LPT# the adapter is set to use.

That's it.

MeFi Mail me if you want.
posted by tcv at 8:43 PM on January 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the prompt and helpful responses!

You learn something every day--I had no clue that cables ever need drivers. Sure enough I went to the manufacturers' website (Cables Unlimited) and found the product (USB-1475-06) and there was a driver. Turns out it actually using the driver would be kludgy on our particular machine so I think this route won't do it for us.

We will definitely investigate SirStan's suggestion about the external server.

Wish us luck, and thanks again!
posted by Sublimity at 11:48 PM on January 2, 2009

Not all USB<>Parallel cables need drivers. Return that one and get another?

Have you gone through a reboot cycle with the adaptor plugged in?

One of these worked just fine to connect my parent's Vista based PC to a LaserJet 4. No drivers required. It did take a little while to show up for the first time IIRC.
posted by pharm at 1:09 AM on January 3, 2009

When faced with a similar problem (printer only has parallel, laptop only has USB) I looked into the parallel/USB cables and found more often than not they caused issues. The JetDirect card is probably your best bet. Most HP models have expansion slots for adding in the cards. If you look at model numbers, the ones that end in "N" generally have the card already, and related models will have the expansion slot. I don't remember what the 1100 has (we have one in our lab, and I've used one in the past, but in both cases it was with an external JetDirect card not an internal one). Look for the externals. Newer JetDirect cards can be configured using the built-in web interface, and setup is pretty straightforward. On Windows you need to add printer (local, NOT network, DON'T search for new hardware), tell it you want to add a new port, choose TCP/IP printer port, feed it the JetDirect address (it will ask you to specify interface if the JetDirect has multiple printer attachment points) and when it finishes setting up the port just choose the printer model number as you normally would.
posted by caution live frogs at 8:10 AM on January 3, 2009

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