Printing: A History & It’s Advancement into the Digital Age

College student starting your first semester in the fall? Picking up your own printer is a great way to make your college life more convenient, especially if you’re going to be writing a lot of essays! Fortunately, you can grab a great printer without blowing your tuition. There are plenty of university-friendly printers that make printing your own documents easier and more affordable than ever.

While we’re on the topic of university-friendly printing, why not learn something in the process? Read on for a whistle-stop tour through the history of desktop printing.

The history of computer printing begins in 1938, when inventor Chester Carlson invented a dry printing process called electrophotography. He called this process Xerox. It became the foundation on which the technology of laser printing was founded (the clue is in the name!). The first printer to print at speed was invented in 1953 by Remington Rand, to be used with the Univac computer.

A Short History of Printing

Printed in China in 868 CE, the earliest known printed book is the Diamond Sutra. Historically, printing was purely decorative as printing was such a long and complex process. The design or text to be printed was carved into wood or stone, rolled with paint, and then stamped onto parchment.

German inventor Johannes Gutenberg was first to build a movable type printing machine, drastically reducing the cost of printing and remaining the gold standard in printing well into the 20th century. Englishman Samuel Simon patented silkscreen printing in 1907. Typesetting followed later, which was invented in 1928 in New York.

The Invention of the Laser Printer

In California, the first laser printer, named EARS, was developed in Palo Alto at the Xerox Research Center. Work began in 1969 and was completed a little over two years later, in November 1971. The printer was built by adapting Xerox copier machine technology, adding a laser beam, and creating a world-first. The Xerox 9700 Electronic Printing System was made available to the public in 1977. It was the first publicly-available product to come out of the Palo Alto Research Center.

IBM Enters the Market

In 1976, IBM, another huge name in printing, installed their first high-speed laser printer at the F.W Woolworth data center in Milwaukee. IBM claimed this was the first ever printer to combine lasers and electrophotography, printing at more than 100 impressions every minute.

Hewlett-Packard Plays Its Cards

Some 12 years after its initial invention in 1976, Hewlett Packard released the first at-home inkjet printer in 1988. Named the DeskJet, it cost an enormous $1000. Fortunately, they’re much more student-friendly these days!

Several years later in 1992, Hewlett-Packard released the first 600×600 dpi laser printer, the LaserJet 4.

And now…

These days, laser and inkjet printers are widely available for student-friendly prices. You can print wirelessly via WiFi, from social media, even from your phone. Battery-powered, lightweight or all-in-one…we’ve come a long way since 868 CE. That’s for sure!

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