In the 1960s, the Xerox Corporation held a dominant position in the photocopier market. In 1969, Gary Starkweather, who worked in Xerox's product development department, had the idea of using a laser beam to "draw" an image of what was to be copied 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). In 1972, Starkweather 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.[2][3][4]
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 IBM 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 of these printers were sold.[5] The Xerox 9700 was brought to market in 1977. Unlike the IBM 3800, the Xerox 9700 was not targeted to replace any particular existing printers; but, it did have limited support for the loading of fonts. The Xerox 9700 excelled at printing high-value documents on cut-sheet paper with varying content (e.g. insurance policies).[5]
In 1979,[6] inspired by the Xerox 9700's commercial success, Japanese camera and optics company, Canon, developed a low-cost, desktop laser printer: the Canon 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 (who turned them down), Hewlett-Packard (HP), and Apple Computer.[7]
The first laser printer designed for office use reached market in 1981: the Xerox Star 8010. The system used a desktop metaphor that was unsurpassed in commercial sales, until the Apple Macintosh. Although it was innovative, the Star workstation was a prohibitively expensive (US$17,000) system, affordable only to a fraction of the businesses and institutions at which it was targeted.[8]
The first laser printer intended for mass-market sales was the HP LaserJet, released in 1984; it used 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 loaded paper's length. Once faster-recovery coatings were developed, the drums could touch the paper multiple times in a pass, and therefore be smaller in diameter.
In 1985, Apple introduced the LaserWriter (also based on the Canon CX engine),[9] but used the newly released PostScript page-description language. Up until this point, each manufacturer used its own proprietary page-description language, making the supporting software complex and expensive. PostScript allowed the use of text, fonts, graphics, images, and color largely independent of the printer's brand or resolution. PageMaker, written by Aldus for the Macintosh and LaserWriter, was also released in 1985 and the combination became very popular for desktop publishing.[4]:13/23[5]:364 Laser printers brought exceptionally fast and high-quality text printing in multiple fonts on a page, to the business and consumer markets. No other commonly available printer during this era could also offer this combination of features.


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