Printers are indispensable items in the home or office environment. The evolution of the technology has grown exponentially over the decades since modern electronic printing was developed. Here’s a brief history of printer technology, from hand-inked, wooden blacks to complex digital machines capable of reprinting fine art images and folding your freshly printed newspaper for you.
There was little evolution in the printing industry after the invention of moveable type in 1439. Up until the introduction of a steam-powered printer in 1814, everything was done by hand, and even the most advanced printer could only turn out about 250 prints in an hour. The steam press greatly increased the production of books and daily newspapers, making them more plentiful and less expensive to produce and purchase.
The Electronic Age
The first high-speed, electronic computer printer was released in 1953, and developed for use with the Univac mainframe computer. The automated photocopier/printer for business use was created and released in 1959. It weighed nearly 650 pounds and produced seven copies per minute; the cost was the equivalent of $27,535.50 AUD.
The first printer in common usage was an analogue printer. This means that they could only scan and print one item at a time, instead of making multiple copies from one scan, as digital copiers do.
Modern Digital Printing
The first laser printer combined the dry print technology of the original photocopier with a laser beam for emitting the light source. The first high-speed laser printer was put into commercial use in Wisconsin at the Woolworth’s accounting offices in 1976, and the first laser printer released into the mass market was introduced in 1977. The laser printer is the most common type of printer available in most workplaces, and lower cost has made them more affordable for home use. They’re able to produce high quality prints at a fast pace, and they have a longer life span than other types of copiers.
The first inkjet printer was released in 1976. The original inkjet printer didn’t have color copying capabilities, and could only print one or two pages per minute, with a resolution of only 300 dpi. These days they’re the most affordable printer on the market, some costing less than $40. They have a 16 ppm capability and can print up to a resolution of 1,200 dpi.
Fine arts printing began in about 1991, with copiers that were capable of producing large, high resolution art prints and posters. Today’s models can handle production of prints as detailed as 2,880 x 1,440 dpi.