Please Remove This Label


How I Configured my IBM Printer and Lived To Tell About the Experience

IBM does not leave anything to circumstance. If you buy a printer from IBM, the accompanying handbook will tell you that before you can use the printer, you will have to connect it to an electricity outlet, and turn the printer on. Then comes a little sidebar explaining that "¦" is the international symbol for "ON" and "O" is the international symbol for "off", followed by a little drawing of a disembodied hand, index finger erect, showing the location of the on/off switch.
IBM also gives us directions for use of their manuals. For instance, the printer manual tells you that if you have a problem with the printer, you should do the following:

  1. Look up the Symptom of the problem.
  2. Read about the probable cause under Probable Cause.
  3. Do what is under Do the Following.
The subtler points of printer configuration and use are explained in Cassete Basic. Cassette Basic is a program that resides in ROM on all IBM's PC's from the 1981 64K original PC at least up to the PS/2 Model 80-111. One way to access this program is to reformat your harddisk, so it is no longer bootable. This is time consuming, however: a more efficient way is to use a utility program such as PC Tools to remove the COMMAND.COM file and DOS' two hidden startup files from your harddisk, and the machine will go straight to Cassette Basic if you hit the Big Red Switch (which is called the Swedish Button in Norway, but I digress). Thereafter you can key in the source code for the printer configuration program (you have to key it in--nothing can be saved in Cassette Basic except on a cassette--and the IBM Cassette Storage Option Device disappeard about 1984. If you, after having keyed in the program, hit the function key for RUN (function keys are great, reduce typing) the required codes will be sent to the printer port, and the printer turns on the big type (or whatever you want to do).

Thereafter, you carefully disconnect the printer cable (the IBM Printer Connectivity Device Option for the Personal Computer and PS/2 Line). Then you boot the machine up with a DOS diskette, replace the two hidden startup files and COMMAND.COM, and reboot again. Remember to take out the diskette and reconnect the printer cable.

There are people who say that there is another kind of BASIC than Cassette Basic, and when I dug through the inventory I discovered 83 manuals in a suspicious green colour (maybe because they have been stored too long in plastic) for something called BASICA. Unfortunately there are no instruction on how to get the manuals out of their plastic cover, so further exploration will have to be deferred for now.

Readers with a sense for corporate ethnography should now understand how to identify an IBM monitor: Look at the screen after you have unpacked it. Almost smack in the middle of the screen (about where you would have cell number C7 in Lotus 123) is a sticker, on which, with large letters, are written:

Made in Taiwan R.O.C.
Underneath is written, in smaller letters:
"After installation, please remove this label"

Written about 1989 or so. Copyright © Espen Andersen
Please feel free to distribute, I won't sue you.
This page atøabl.htm.
Contact information at