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Roland DXY-1300 pen plotter drawing the AutoCAD Space Shuttle DWG from 1985

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Published on Nov 12, 2010

The Space Shuttle DWG is a sample vector image file that was provided with the 1980's versions of the Computer Aided Design programme AutoCAD, developed and sold by Autodesk, Inc. This was one of the first CAD programmes to run on personal computers, notably the IBM PC. Many early computer buffs that were so lucky to have a mathematical co-processor in their PC will remember this particular DWG very well, as it was often the first image used to test the computer's calculating power by drawing this 'complex' image on the screen. The next most exciting thing was having a pen plotter draw the image as well.

The Roland DXY-1300 pen plotter is a popular computer printing device from the 1980's for printing vector graphics. It prints by moving a pen across the surface of a piece of paper, much like a human hand does. This means it is restricted to line art. To be able to draw all sorts of shapes the pen needs to be able to move across the paper on an X and Y axis. The Roland line of pen plotters have a specific design where the paper is fixed and the pen moves along both the X and Y axis in all directions. This is different from the HP line of plotters where the pen only moves along one axis and the paper along the other. The drawing pen is mounted on a carriage that moves back and forth. These smaller "home-use" plotters were popular for desktop business graphics and in engineering laboratories for technical drawings. Starting from the mid-1990's pen plotters were gradually replaced by high-resolution inkjet and laser printers. Surviving pen plotters have often been converted to venyl sign cutters.

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