The developer's resource for computer interfacing, especially USB, serial (COM) ports, mass storage, and embedded networking. (Formerly

Home > Parallel Port Complete

Parallel Port Complete

Programming, Interfacing, and Using the PC's Parallel Printer Port

Jan Axelson 

Introduction | Table of Contents |Excerpt | Code

Reviews | Book data (price, ISBN) | Corrections

Parallel Port CompleteBuy from | Other sources


From its origin as a simple printer interface, the personal computer’s parallel port has evolved into a place to plug in just about anything you might want to hook to a computer. The parallel port is popular because it’s versatile—you can use it for output, input, or bidirectional links—and because it’s available—every PC has one.

Printers are still the most common devices connected to the port, but other popular options include external tape and disk drives and scanners. Laptop computers may use a parallel-port-based network interface or joystick. For special applications, there are dozens of parallel-port devices for use in data collection, testing, and control systems. And the parallel port is the interface of choice for many one-of-a-kind and small-scale projects that require communications between a computer and an external device.

In spite of its popularity, the parallel port has always been a bit of a challenge to work with. Over the years, several variations on the original port’s design have emerged, yet there has been no single source of documentation that describes the port in its many variations.

I wrote this book to serve as a practical, hands-on guide to all aspects of the parallel port. It covers both hardware and software, including how to design external circuits that connect to the port, as well as how to write programs to control and monitor the port, including both the original and improved port designs. More...

Table of Contents

Chapter 1


Inpout32 DLL for accessing ports

Zip file with examples from the book.


The definitive handbook on unconventional uses of parallel ports. - Q & A, Electronics Now.

If you need to do any development of parallel port devices or want to get a bit-level understanding of the port's inner workings, I strongly recommend Parallel Port Complete. - Bill Machrone, PC Week.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love it when an author picks a reasonably narrow topic and then covers that topic thoroughly....There's lots of good VB source code that could be ported to the language and operating system of your choice. I've never written a line of VB code and I had no problem following the examples....The book is written in a very readable style and starts off with the basics; you don't have to be a hardware guru to read it....if you think you might ever need to access a parallel port (under any operating system), this book is for you. In fact, I'm trying really hard to think of a reason why I need to make that digital thermometer described in Chapter 9.- Paula Tomlinson, Windows Developer's Journal.

Finding out how the parallel port works and how to control it can prove difficult, even though parallel ports conform to the IEEE-1284 standard. Now, though, you can get just about everything you need to know in one highly useful book that covers the hardware and software considerations of using the parallel port....By the second chapter, the author is already discussing the ways you can access a port and control it....I like a quick start that gets me thinking about my own possible applications....Given the author's clear diagrams and explanations, it shouldn't take you long to wire and test a simple circuit that you can control through the parallel port with VB software....Even if you can't think of a parallel-port application right now, buy the book anyway. You may find that it inspired an idea to take advantage of a port that already exists on your PC. After all, the author has done most of the hardware and software work for you. - Jon Titus, Test & Measurement World.

If you want to learn about PC-based parallel ports, then you need a copy of Jan Axelson's Parallel Port Complete. Good stuff. -Jeff Holtzman, Electronics Now.

An excellent resource for Visual Basic programmers looking to interface hardware through standard ports. Anyone designing hardware to work with a parallel port is well advised to add this book to their library. - Paul G. Schreier, Personal Engineering.

It's been awhile since I've seen a book so practical as this one. Parallel Port Complete is a real keeper! - Joseph Carr, Nuts & Volts.

Book Information

Price: $39.95
343 pages, 7" x 10"
ISBN# 0-9650819-1-5
Example code. (Early printings included a disc with the example code.)
Where to buy
Distribution (for bookstores and wholesalers)