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IBM Proprinter 4201


Veteran Member
Jun 3, 2009
Peru, New York
Original box, original documentation. Does anyone have a use for this? Make me an offer. Otherwise has to go to recycler.


Ole Juul

Veteran Member
Aug 15, 2008
Coalmont, BC, Canada
I've got one, but just want to chime in here in the hopes that someone will find this printer interesting. This is a classic printer and represents an important new design trend in American manufacturing - products described with the slogan "no screws, springs, pulleys, or belts". The Proprinter 4201 came out about March 1985 and is a good choice for an early IBM setup.

Here are a few cuts from my notes:

In 1981, IBM had sold PC's at a rate far beyond its initial forecast of 250,000. At that time, IBM's least expensive printers sold for $5,000 and were designed for use in data processing centers. The low cost printer market was completely controlled by off-shore manufacturers centered in Japan. IBM had two options: continue to buy low-end printers from overseas, or design and manufacture their own printers. After a manufacturing analysis, it was evident that IBM could not build a competitive low cost prrinter.

Charley Rogers, product manager of the Proprinter team, talks about IBM deciding to build the printer in the United States instead of buying low-end printers from overseas. ...

Low-end printers had too many parts and too much labor content to be profitably built in the United States. James T. Vanderslice, the Vice-President of IBM for manufacturing and development, was not happy with this conclusion. He told his team: "Let's suppose you didn't work for IBM. Could we do it then? If we can't do it, we're out of the business." This challenge persuaded IBM to find a way to become a competitive manufacturer of low-cost printers in the United States.

So in 1983 I.B.M. decided to go into the PC printer business, and in May 1985, it opened its airplane-hangar-sized Proprinter plant in Charlotte, N.C., which ties together 200 workers with 50 robots and 160 computers.

nige the hippy

Veteran Member
Apr 7, 2006
Luton UK
I have one too, I kept it because 1) I used to fix them for a job & 2) it's a really solid little printer (except the front panel mounting lugs!) with a robust head. a little silicone grease applied to the right bits & it should last.