The TRS-80 Multi-Pen Plotter

written by Matthew Reed

The TRS-80 Multi-Pen Plotter (catalog number 26-1191) was similar to the earlier TRS-80 Plotter/Printer (catalog number 26-1190), but offered one important new feature: the ability to print in color. Described as an “intelligent plotter,” the Multi-Pen Plotter used replaceable colored pens to print on paper or transparencies. Even at a price of $1995.00, the Multi-Pen Plotter was cheaper than many other color output alternatives available at the time. In fact, the catalog description states that the Plotter “brings an affordable price to color graphics!”

Introduced in November 1981, the Multi-Pen Plotter measured 6" by 13.5" by 10.5" and weighed 20 pounds. It connected to a TRS-80 computer through the RS-232 interface and could be programmed using simple commands that were described in the manual. The Multi-Pen Plotter also came with “exclusive software” for the Model II and III to create line charts, pie charts, and graphs.

TRS-80 Multi-Pen Plotter

TRS-80 Multi-Pen Plotter from a 1983 Radio Shack catalog

The Multi-Pen Plotter used six colored pens (black, red, blue, green, violet, and orange) to print at 2.8 inches per second on a full 8.5" by 11" page. In addition to lines and curves, it could also print 93 different characters of upper- and lowercase text. The plotter could also be operated manually using “touch sensitive membrane controls.”

Radio Shack sold replacement hard-nib pens for $3.95 each in seven colors:

  • red (catalog number 26-1460)
  • blue (catalog number 26-1461)
  • green (catalog number 26-1462)
  • violet (catalog number 26-1463)
  • brown (catalog number 26-1464)
  • orange (catalog number 26-1465)
  • black (catalog number 26-1466)

Radio Shack also sold felt-tip pens for transparencies for $3.95 each, also in seven colors:

  • red (catalog number 26-1470)
  • blue (catalog number 26-1471)
  • green (catalog number 26-1472)
  • violet (catalog number 26-1473)
  • brown (catalog number 26-1474)
  • orange (catalog number 26-1475)
  • black (catalog number 26-1476)

The Multi-Pen Plotter remained in the Radio Shack catalog until 1984, when it was replaced by the $995.00 FP-215 color plotter (catalog number 26-1193).

Categories: Hardware, Printers