PRINTS OF DARKNESS
Multiprint is a printer interface from Romantic Robot, the replicants responsible for the notorious and beloved Multiface. As you might infer from the name, this latest beast is a cross between your average Centronics printer interface and that hacker dream machine.
It shows in appearance alone. Multiprint looks stunningly like Multiface. Red Button and all. It even allows you to run Multiface software, like the Genie Disassembler. The ribbon cable hanging out of the edge connector slot at the back and the changed labels (the back one still mentions Multiface) give the game away.
Multiiprint interfaces with Basic in time-honoured fashion. Special versions of old commands set things up and allow the normal printer commands (Lprint, Llist, Copy etc) to work with an Epson compatible Centronics/parallel printer. Non-Epsons will work, but you'll lose some features. Any Spectrum apart from the parallel equipped +3 will work with the interface.
The command which does all the hard work is Rem, followed by MP and some mnemonic instructions. For example. Rem MP, WD66, LM13 sets the width of the printed output to 66 columns with a left margin of 13. Similar magic works the line spacing, extra line feeds and page size.
Multiface can also manage four subtly different types of Copy. First, fastest and least flexible is Text Copy (Rem MP, CPT). This just copies all characters on the screen to the printer in roughly their correct positions. Fine for word processing or account stuff, but no graphics. For graphic fiends there are the other three Copys, Normal Size Hi-Res (CPN), Large Size Hi-Res (CPL) and Large Shaded (CPS), but that sounds like a myth. The first two do different sizes of pixel-based copy where any ink is black and all paper is white, and the last has a creditable attempt at representing your Spectrum's sixteen chromatic coruscations as shades of grey pattern. Once you've chosen the old Copy command does the deed.
The interface also knows about Spectrum graphics characters, and can print both the predefined and the user-defined variety with equal facility. You can also set up to six Print Driver strings, so that with a single Lprint Chr$. your printer can receive a stream of command bytes (up to four per PD string). This can be a useful way to change between (say) underlined and normal printing from Basic.
For those with a limited attention span. Rem MP by itself calls up a menu screen or two to help you set up all these tedious options So don't say Romantic don't bend over backwards to help you.
Ah yes, the Red Button. Again, the perceptive might guess that this is a Good Bit Press this while the Spectrum is doing something (and that includes running your fave game), and a menu appears on the screen. Once again, the Multiface ancestry is strong, with the traditional toolkit and other pokerama paraphernalia to hand. Most important, given what the thing is, is the capability to dump the screen in whatever mode you've set up. You can even set your own special Copy mode, providing it uses not more than four bytes of control sequence and you can work out what the interface is going to do...
The manual is short, useful and tells you exactly how to use the interface with various favourite word processors, disk drives and all that jazz. The sort of info people need, and usually write to Sinclair Surgery for. And the port addressing is identical to the Kempston interface, so lots of software should work with it.
I've had the interface now for about three weeks, and it all performs as advertised. It doesn't have the built-in word processor that the Ramprint interface has, but it does have a lot more hackery potential. And a Red Button. Who could resist? Not I.