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LocalTalk and StyleWriter II Printer Sharing


Well-known member
I think I already know the answer to this, but I thought I would ask anyway...

I have two 68k Macs (a Centris 650 running 7.5.5 and a Classic running 7.1), both of which I use for writing and database stuff at home. I also have a StyleWriter II printer which works really well and is completely reliable. The Macs and printer are all located along the same bench in my ManCave (with a Sinclair QL and Raspberry PI between them) within a few feet of each other.

However, I would like to have the best of both worlds and have both Macs connected to the printer simultaneously, so that I don't have to faff around switching cables every time I want to print from a different computer; although it wouldn't be a problem to do this, given the low usage of the printer, it seems a rather inelegant way to operate, and I don't associate the word inelegant with Macs in general.

So my question is, can I use some configuration of LocalTalk or AppleTalk to connect the two Macs to the printer? Given that I would only ever be using one Mac at a time, there is no real for a printer server setup, but just having something like a 2 ADB to 1 ADB port connector might just work.

Is this possible? Any suggestions gratefully received...



Well-known member
I think the best solution is an A/B printer switch box for Mac mini din serial printers. Your StyleWriter doesn't support LocalTalk internally, so it must be connected to a Mac or a print server. I think you're visualising an AppleTalk dongle, which has a male mini din serial plug and two female mini din ports. (not ADB) Your printer doesn't support such a dongle, so no dice.

Here's a link to the switch on eBay. The seller helpfully notes you'll need a straight through cable between the computer and switch. (not a printer cable which is a crossover)


You'll either need two crossover cables and one straight through, or two straight and one crossover. Your existing printer cable will be a crossover. Since I have piles of crossovers, I'd use one from each computer to the switch, then a straight from the switch to the printer.

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Scott Baret

Well-known member
The StyleWriter II actually has a feature called "GrayShare" built in. It's not networkable via AppleTalk in the traditional sense (where it can use a LocalTalk box like a LaserWriter or card-equipped ImageWriter II), but can be used on a network with a few caveats.

First, to get this out of the way--ADB is used for input devices such as keyboards and mice. The connector is a Mini-DIN, but it's a different connector than the Mini-DIN8 used for the printer and modem ports (and LocalTalk). Do not interchange the cables.

Here's what you will need to get this network going:

--A standard Mini-DIN8 to Mini-DIN8 cable for connecting the printer to one of your Macs

--Two LocalTalk boxes (you can either use Apple's LocalTalk connectors or Farallon PhoneNet for this, but don't interchange the two)

--One network cable (for Apple LocalTalk boxes) or telephone cord (for PhoneNet boxes)

----> NOTE: The AppleTalk cable is a completely different Mini-DIN connector...sometimes, these come attached between two LocalTalk boxes when buying them on eBay or similar

Here's how to put it together:

--Connect the printer to the modem port of one of your Macs. Let's make this the Centris because it's the faster of the two machines.

--Be sure the StyleWriter software is installed on both computers. This includes the GrayShare software. It is included on StyleWriter disks and was available from Apple directly online (it's still there somewhere but the link isn't easy to find anymore)

--Connect the two computers together with your network cable system. Use the printer ports on your computers. Be sure AppleTalk is turned on in the Chooser on both the Classic and Centris.

--In the Chooser, set up the StyleWriter II for sharing by clicking the driver, clicking the "setup" button, and configuring from there.

--If all went well, the StyleWriter II will show up as an option in the Chooser on the Classic under its network name.

This is pretty easy to do, but can be confusing if you're not familiar with networking on the earlier Macs. I have a networked StyleWriter II in use with the Macs I use with the kids I work with and it works great; let me know if you have any questions about how to set this up.



Well-known member
Wow, thanks for the detailed responses, many thanks! Sorry about the ADB error, I know the cables were not the same, but I was tired last night and couldn't remember that the printer cables are serial ones! I think I've got some of the bits required (I did a bit of speculative eBaying last night), but I will need a few more bits and pieces. However, thanks for such detailed advice. I'll send an update once I've got it all together!



Well-known member
Dear Scott,

Thanks for the really helpful and detailed instructions in your post.... Just to check, you have suggested I connect the StyleWriter II to the MODEM port on the Centris, and then make a LocalTalk connection between the Centris and Classic via their PRINTER ports? I think I can see the logic here, but just wanted to check again!

Also, I have one of these Din-8 connection kits on the way from eBay, so according to my reading of your post I just need another LocalTalk connector module?

Many thanks: it sounds like you still make good use of your old classic macs... Glad to hear that they are still being used for better and more practical things than simply the nostalgia of middle aged men (mainly!).

Best wishes,




Scott Baret

Well-known member
Yes, you will need the StyleWriter on the modem port.

Here's why: AppleTalk networks only work through the printer port. The modem port doesn't have this capability and was designed for local devices.

Your StyleWriter II is a local device, but it's a local device which is shared. As such, everything has to go through your Centris from the Classic. (It does mean the Centris needs to be turned on when the Classic prints, but that's as easy as hitting the button on the front--and, in my mind, is easier than continually connecting the printer between your Macs).

Data from your Classic goes through the printer port (out) to the printer port on the Centris (in), then the Centris sends it to the StyleWriter as though it's printing its own job.

The sharing approach is more software than hardware, and it was done to minimize costs of the StyleWriter II. Apple wanted to keep this printer inexpensive for consumers, but it actually became a "best buy" for places with light printing needs, such as a classroom with several computers where most of the work done on the computers is through edutainment games.



Well-known member
Scott, I thought that GrayShare required a 68020. Is that just for the grayscale printing capability?



Well-known member
Okay, a bit of an update... I spent some time with the classic in pieces (re-capping and replacing the hard drive with a SCSI2SD), but have tried this evening to get the shared printing working...

Well, having connected the printer to the Centris via the modem port, and the Classic and the Centris via a LocalTalk cable and two adaptors, I'm getting mixed results:

The Centris can print just fine: I had to alter the settings in the chooser, but everything is fine and dandy. The system is using the Stylewriter 1200 drivers, and has given me a Desktop printer, but so far, so good.

But there is nothing working from the Classic. I know it can print just fine (when directly connected to the Stylewriter 2), but having selected the Stylewriter 2 in the chooser (via the printer serial port), when I send a job to the printer I get an 'out of paper' error, then a 'paper is too small' at which point the print job is deleted. Not a single flash, click or whirr from the Stylewriter.

I have AppleTalk switched off on both computers, and as far as I can tell there is no problem with the localtalk cables or boxes, so I'm puzzled... I'm sure there is something obvious that I am missing, but cannot tell what the issue is... ANY suggestions very much appreciated!



Well-known member
AppleTalk networks only work through the printer port. The modem port doesn't have this capability and was designed for local devices.
I thought that was always an idiot-proofing by Apple? Hardware wise I don't think I've ever noticed a difference between the two serial ports.

Unless you're saying Apple was stupid enough to software lock Appletalk to the printer port.

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Well-known member
By the way, when I said I have AppleTalk switched off on both computers, obviously I mean ON... Sorry, was a bit tired when I was typing....

Still confused, mind...