The history of computer printing began in 1983 when Chester Carlson invented the electrophotographic dry printing process known as a Xerox. It laid out the foundations for laser printers. However, it was in 1953 when Remington-Rand developed the first ever high-speed printer used with the Univac computer.
Origins of Impact and Non-impact Printers
Though line printers were technically the first of its kind in printing technology, it was the dot matrix printer that made the jump from typewriters seem viable. They print characters by pushing pins onto an ink ribbon that is then applied over the paper. Unlike typewriters, these printers produce any character or graphic. They weren’t limited to a set of letters and numbers designed by the manufacturer.
When Remington-Rand introduced the high-speed printer for the Universal Automatic Computer (Univac), it was a big and bulky machine that only modernized offices used. Typewriters were still the popular way of printing characters during that time. Though high-speed, users had to go through a lot of processes in order to print one piece of paper.
Companies debated between impact and non-impact printers, as they varied in cost and effectiveness. Impact printers produce a high amount of paperwork, but with low-resolution graphics. Non-impact printers yield high-quality prints, but at a much slower pace.
Daisy wheel, line printers, and dot matrix printers are impact printers as they operate by striking an ink ribbon. Laser, inkjet, and other modern printers are non-impact printers.
BONUS! Printer Fun Fact
Did you know that it takes around 135 fluid ounces of oil to make a printer cartridge? This accounts for oil used from manufacturing to its transportation to your locality. Luckily, recycled ink cartridges reduce this waste.
High-speed Printer Race
Gary Starkweather used the copier technology in Xerox machines to develop the first laser printer in 1969. However, it wasn’t released until 1977. Upon release, the bulky Xerox 9700 Electronic Printing System made it easier to print documents through the seamless integration to many devices thanks to the already popular Xerox technology.
As Xerox continued to grow, IBM also released the IBM 3800. It was a laser printer that was capable of 100 impressions per minute. According to IBM, it was the first computer printer that was able to combine laser and electrophotography technology.
At this time, inkjet printers rose in popularity for being lightweight. The compact size allowed professionals that work at a home office to have their own setup. The only drawback to them is they use an expensive type of paper designed for quality and not quantity.
Whether it’s a daisy wheel printer, line printer, dye sublimation printing, inkjet printer or laser printer, printing is still a major part of today’s world, especially for businesses. Many companies still rely on physical documents with digital copies only serving as the backup in the cloud. Computer printing saw its start as a noisy, bulky machine producing low-quality images, but advanced to a sophisticated device capable of being tweaked to the greatest detail.