Since Gutenberg’s printing press was developed in 1439, there’s been many revisions to the printer we know today. Whether it has been used to bring Medieval Europe into the Renaissance, like Gutenberg’s press, or to publish your local newspaper, its original purpose is universal and longstanding; to carry a message to whoever needs it.
Although Gutenberg’s press was the most significant turn in printing history, and his original wooden ink block design allowed books to be published more efficiently, its relevance today is actually minimal.
Looking back at the origins
The original computer printer was developed by Chester Carlson in 1938, and unlike previous iterations, it was able to imprint text on paper without any moisture. This not only ensured that words were more legible, but were also longer lasting. Because of this, it was employed by many of those in the corporate sphere, such as the newly developed Ford manufacturer at the time. More importantly, Carlson’s design was patented as Xerox, whose name stands to this day.
The concept worked by transmitting and printing images using a ray of directed ions onto a rotating drum of warming metal material. The ions created electrostatic charges within the actual drum. From there, a fine powder was then be dusted upon the drum and would stick to stick to parts that had been charged. This would be the foundation technology for modern laser printing.
Modern laser printing was then further perfected in 1984 by Hewlett Packard (HP). Their HP Laser Jet’s importance was not only in function, but also in accessibility. It was the first laser printer that was directed to middle-class consumers, working by moving the fine powder from Carlson’s design back and forth, similar to how a typewriter functions. These versions of printers are known as ‘dot matrix’ printers.
However, the printer that has the most relevant to the average consumer is the inkjet printer. This was first developed in 1973, as a joint venture by Canon, HP and Epson, and would only be available to consumers by the late 1980s. This long break in time was due to the continual refinement of developing an entirely new type of printer -- one that would eliminate the ‘dot matrix’ design. Instead of using metal material as the dot matrix, inkjet printers rely on hundreds of tiny plastic injectors to place ink on paper. While this creates a less dry result, it also means a more affordable solution for those that need everyday printing solutions.
The printer we know today
Today, we use inkjets within our own homes and workplaces, bringing rise to a widely used version that was once formed off Chester Carlson’s notions. Due to their inexpensive nature, their affordability is a huge drawing point for consumers of all financial levels. Add to that the fact that the resolutions of inkjets are becoming more and more advanced, and there’s plenty of reasons to opt for these nifty devices.
However, the one downfall is often seen in the price of replacement inks, where they tend to draw more expenses than laser printer solutions. All in all, the ability and the purpose of these devices come down the requirements they’re used for, and the amount of demand that will be placed on them in a daily capacity.