While home computers and printers are pretty commonplace now, home printers have only been around since the 1980s. Printers for offices have been around slightly longer than that, but even they are fairly new to the world of technology. It is amazing to consider the technological advances that have happened in roughly the last 80 to 90 years.
Xerox: The Pre-Printer
In 1938, Chester Carlson invented electrophotography, most commonly known now as Xerox. At first, Carlson struggled to find anyone who shared his vision of the importance of his invention, but eventually other people started to see that Carlson might have a useful invention. Once his invention took off, Carlson became a multimillionaire, and the stage was set for the creation of printers.
Beginnings of the Printer
Before printers were available for use in homes, they were available for business use. The first recorded high-speed printer was developed by Remington-Rand in 1953. It was created specifically to be used with the Univac computer.
Other early printers include EARS, the first laser printer. It was developed at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center between 1969 and late 1971. The printer relied upon the copier technology Carlson had used to create the first Xerox but also used a laser beam for printing.
Before home printers were available, IBM had also made an impact on the world of printers. In 1976, the first IBM 3800 was installed at F. W. Woolworth’s central accounting office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The printer was the first high-speed laser printer. It printed at more than 100 impressions-per-minute. IBM actually beat out Xerox for the release of a printer since the Xerox 9700 Printing System was not released until 1977.
The First Home Printer
Once the technology for the printer was available, it transitioned fairly quickly from something available only for businesses to something available for use at home. In March 1984, the first HP LaserJet printer was introduced. It was the first desktop laser printer. Unfortunately, it cost roughly $3,500 and weighed about 70 pounds, making it impractical for many households. Fortunately, the creation of the HP LaserJet printer showed that printers could be created for home use, and people began working to create something easier to use at home.
With the ability to print both horizontally and vertically and to print graphics and a variety of fonts, the HP LaserJet printer was something new for the consumer. One ink cartridge could print about 3,000 pages, and the printer could quietly produce eight pages a minute.
In the over 30 years since the HP LaserJet printer was first released, both the size and the cost of home printers have gone down. Today’s printers and multi-function printers combine copying, printing, and faxing into one machine, offer double-sided printing, wi-fi printing, and much more.