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A Brief History of Computer Printers

Even though we are now taking printers for granted, as they were always part of our lives, similarly as electricity and television. However, that was not the case, and computer printers were luxury back in the day, and even today, if you want to find a high-end choice, you will have to spare a significant amount of money.At the same time, computer printers feature an interesting history which has always been more complex and advanced then you currently think.

So let us start from the very beginning:

The Beginnings

Charles Babbage was the original creator of computer printers,and he planned and included the difference engine, which was one of the first, primitive computers, which was an automatic mechanical calculator that could calculate polynomial functions.

Even though he designs the idea during the mid 19th century, the working model entered the market 150 years later. The invention that leads to making computer printing was Syphon Recorder, which was the telegraph machine invented by Lord Kelvin in the mid 19th century.

The idea of this particular machine was to convert telegraph signals into lines written in ink. Each different letter had to create a unique shape on the line so that that operator could read the message with ease.

If we start with the fact that first general purpose computers became recognized during the '40s, '50s,and '60s, we can easily say that it is a time when the first printer was born. However, these computers used electronic typewriters or line printers, which were computer-specific and worked the similar way as typewriters.

We recommend you to click here if you want to learn more on Syphon Recorder.

They had to press ink on a piece of paper and use a combination or raised metal type with the ink ribbon. On the other hand, with line printers, the paper would lay on the top, while it would be between cylinder and ink ribbon.

Even though they worked the same way as typewriters, they used a hammer to imprint a character on the other side of the paper. Everything changed with the introduction of dot matrix printers that were the next generation if we look at the evolution of these devices throughout the timeline.

These were similar to line printers because both of them used an impact with the idea to produce a text on a paper by pushing ink with round metal part. However, dot matrix ones did not use hammers, but instead, they generated text by pushing small pink onto the ribbon that will ultimately lie on the paper.

Since it did not use raised type, people could easily print images and different kinds of font, which was the legendary moment for the printer evolution. The text was much bolder and brighter when compared with different types of printing machines, but it reduced speed when compared with line ones,and it could make up to 1000 characters per minute.

Consumer-Oriented Printers

They were the leading choice for most consumers and business from the '70s until '90s came around. However, the first laser printers entered the scene in the '70s, but they were far from ones that we are using today.

They used inkjet technology,and the first manufacturers were companies such as HP and Canon. Have in mind that the first consumer-oriented inkjet printer was released in 1988 and it cost briefly $1000, which was a small fortune at that time.

They work by releasing droplets of liquid ink by using electricity or heat from cartridges that were more expensive than gold. When we compare them with ones today, we can say that inkjet is the cheapest solution on the market, but back in the day, it was a revolution.

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Simultaneously, laser printers used laser onto the light-sensitive cylinder, which would lead to drawing on the piece of paper. Today, this is the most common choice for businesses and individuals, and they are more expensive than inkjetalternatives because you will be able to print large quantities much faster and with higher quality.

Some businesses still use dot matrix, and you will be able to see them on some old cash registers or some businesses such as physicians and car dealerships that require specific types of carbon paper documents.

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