Early computers used electric typewriters and teleprinters to print their results until the first type printers came along. In 1953, the company Remington Rand produced drum printers which are considered to be the first high-speed printers. Starting in 1960, they were joined by chain printers and steel-tape printers. The daisy wheel printer was invented in 1969. It used replaceable daisy wheels and produced letter-quality print-outs that were comparable to those made by typewriting.
1970 saw the beginning of the age of matrix printers, which use small individual dots to form letters. That year, Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) produced the dot matrix printer, a device that could also reproduce graphics and photos on paper.
In 1971, the engineer Gary Starkweather built the first laser printer at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. However, it did not reach market maturity until 1978 and the introduction of the Xerox 9700, a machine that could print 120 pages per minute.
Direct thermal printers began to be used in fax machines and desktop computers in 1974, followed by thermal transfer printers, which produced high-quality black-white and colour print-outs.
The ink-jet printer followed in 1976. However, the process was not mature: The main problem faced by engineers was that dried ink repeatedly clogged the printer head.
In the 1980s, laser printers and ink-jet printers took over offices. In 1984, Hewlett-Packard (HP) presented the first laser printer for IBM-compatible PCs, the HP LaserJet. It cost only $3,500. Up to that point, a high-quality laser printer had cost between $100,000 and $350,000.
In 1988, HP introduced the ink-jet printer DeskJet, which cost just $1,000: Engineers at HP and Canon had solved the problem of the clogged printer head.
The exhibition area of the HNF offers an overview of various types of printers and gives you a chance to hear the various sounds they create.