Copier and Printer
In the 1960s, the American Xerox Corporation held a dominant position in the copier market. In 1969, Gary Starkweather, who worked at Xerox in product development, had the idea of using a laser to draw an image directly onto the copier drum. After transferring to the recently formed Palo Alto Research Center (Xerox PARC) in 1971, Starkweather adapted a Xerox 7000 copier to create SLOT (Scanned Laser Output Terminal). The following year, he worked with Butler Lampson and Ronald Rider to add a control system and character generator resulting in a printer called EARS (Ethernet, Alto Research character generator, Scanned laser output terminal) which later became the Xerox 9700 laser printer. The first commercial implementation of a laser printer was the IBM 3800 in 1976. It was designed for data centers where it replaced line printers attached to mainframe computers. The 3800 was used for high-volume printing on continuous stationery and achieved speeds of 215 pages per minute (ppm) at a resolution of 240 dots per inch (dpi). Over 8,000 were sold. The Xerox 9700 was brought to market in 1977. Unlike the 3800, it was not targeted to replace any particular existing printers, but it did have limited support for the loading of fonts. It excelled at printing high-value documents on cut-sheet paper with varying content such as insurance policies. In 1979, inspired by the success of the Xerox 9700, the Japanese camera and optics company Canon developed a low-cost desktop laser printer, the LBP-10. Canon then began work on a much improved print engine, the Canon CX, resulting in the LBP-CX printer. Lacking experience in selling to computer users, Canon sought partnerships with three Silicon Valley companies: Diablo Data Systems, Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Apple Computer, although Diablo turned them down. The first laser printer designed for use in an office setting was released with the Xerox Star 8010 in 1981. The system used a desktop metaphor that was not surpassed in a commercially successful product until the Apple Macintosh. Although it was innovative, the Star workstation was an expensive (US$17,000) system that was purchased by only a few businesses and institutions. The first laser printer intended for a mass market was the HP LaserJet, released in 1984, using the Canon CX engine controlled by HP software. The LaserJet was quickly followed by printers from Brother Industries, IBM and others. First-generation machines had large photosensitive drums, of circumference greater than the paper length. Once faster-recovery coatings were developed, the drums could touch the paper multiple times in a pass, and could therefore be smaller in diameter. In 1985, Apple introduced the LaserWriter which was also based on the Canon CX engine, but used the newly released PostScript page description language. Up until this point, each manufacturer used their own page description language, making the supporting software complex and expensive. PostScript allows the use of text, fonts, graphics, images, and color largely independent of the brand of the printer or its resolution. PageMaker, written by Aldus for the Macintosh and LaserWriter, was also released in 1985 and the combination became very popular for desktop publishing. Laser printers brought fast, high quality text printing with multiple fonts on a page to the business and consumer markets. No other commonly available printer could offer this combination of features.