The Daisy Wheel Printer II

written by Matthew Reed

The Daisy Wheel Printer II (catalog number 26-1158), more commonly known as the Daisy Wheel II, DW II, or DWP II, was the highest quality TRS-80 printer that Radio Shack sold. It was introduced in 1980 for a price of $1960.00, although that was later raised to $1995.00. Radio Shack featured the Daisy Wheel II in their catalog from 1981 to 1984 as their “best high-speed, formed-character printer.”

Daisy Wheel II from Radio Shack catalog

Daisy Wheel Printer II from the 1981 Radio Shack catalog

The Daisy Wheel II was a replacement for the rarely remembered Daisy Wheel Printer I (catalog number 26-1157), which was described by Ed Juge this way:

Some of you (and us) remain painfully aware that the DWP I was a fiasco. The product was good, but serious parts and production problems existed which were not cured in time to do any good.

But the Daisy Wheel II had no such problems. It weighed 28 pounds and was constructed almost entirely out of heavy-gauge aluminum. Bob Liddil, in his review in 80 Microcomputing, described it as “being built like a Sherman tank.”

The Daisy Wheel II could print at 43 characters per second (500 words per minute) on paper that was up to 15 inches wide, with up to five carbons. Ribbon life was estimated at 270,000 characters for a carbon ribbon or 1,600,000 characters for a fabric ribbon. From the 1982 Radio Shack catalog:

For fast, superb quality printing, depend on the TRS-80 Daisy Wheel II. With its high-speed interchangeable character wheel and carbon ribbon, you get the “electric typewriter” look you want for your important typewritten documents. And when you’re ready for a different character style, just snap in another print wheel.

Print wheels for Daisy Wheel II

Print wheel selection from a Radio Shack catalog

The front panel of the Daisy Wheel II featured only a power LED, an online/offline switch, and a pitch selector. The three pitch modes possible were 10 characters per inch, 12 characters per inch, and proportional. The Courier wheel included with the printer used 10 characters per inch.

As with any daisy wheel printer, switching to a different font required changing to a different print wheel. Fortunately, the Daisy Wheel II offered “one-touch” installation and removal of print wheels. Radio Shack sold additional wheels for $39.95 each. Underlined and bold characters could be produced with any font, but italic characters required a special print wheel. Common optional wheels included Prestige Elite (12 characters per inch) and Madeline (proportional).

Radio Shack offered a number of accessories for the Daisy Wheel II, including:

  • a bi-directional tractor feed (catalog number 26-1447) for $289.95
  • an automatic sheet feeder (catalog number 26-1448) for $1,495.00
  • an automatic envelope feeder (catalog number 26-1260) for $1,195.00
  • an acoustical cover for “super-quiet printing” (catalog number 26-1455) for $399.00

There was broad support for the Daisy Wheel II among TRS-80 word processing programs. The Daisy Wheel II was often paired with the TRS-80 Model II for a word processing workstation. Radio Shack sold the two bundled with Scripsit as the “Model II Word Processing System” for $6197.00 in their 1981 catalog.

Categories: Printers


Stephen Nofziger says:

I wrote a lot of accounting programs for our business that I still use, along with the DWPII we bought in the early 1980’s. It is very durable. Ribbons are the problem of course, so I use the printer only for posting to our account receivable cards. I hope to get a few more years out of it…

I did turn on my Model III a few months ago after many years of storage, but was disappointed to see smoke coming out a few minutes after booting up and had to “recycle” it.