Faces, Fonts, and Points – An Expose on Laser Printer Technology in COMPUTE! Magazine in May 1991

Today we take them for granted, but 30 years ago laser printers were one of the many wonders of Information Technology–not to mention, expensive.

Faces, fonts, and points. (laser printers)
by William Harrel, May 1991

Not long ago, the word laser brought to mind sophisticated weaponry, radio transmissions bouncing off the moon, microsurgery, and other futuristic images. Who would’ve thought that by 1990 literally millions of people would have laser devices sitting on their desks?

Like every other facet of the computer world, printing has evolved substantially. We used to be amazed at the speed of daisywheel printers. They were little more than computer-driven typewriters, but at speeds ranging around 200 words per minute (with no errors), they left human typists in the dust.

Dot-matrix printers seemed wonderful devices-they printed fast and were capable of producing graphics. Later, near-letter-quality (NLQ) printing allowed dot-matrix printers to be used for important business letters. NLQ involved nothing more than teaching the printer to put more ink in a smaller space, or increasing the resolution-the dots per inch (dpi).

Increasing Print quality slowed a dot-matrix printer significantly, however-often to half its draft-mode speed. Printer technology had come a long way, but it was far from perfect. it wasn’t until laser printers hit the market that computer hardcopy output reached exceptional quality.

Read the entire story at archive.org

(NOTE: To turn a page in the magazine spread, click the right page to move forward and the left page to go backward.)

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