Computer inkjet printerA printer is an external hardware output device responsible for taking electronic data stored on a computer or computing device and generating a hard copy of that data. Printers are one of the most commonly used peripherals on computers and are commonly used to print text and photos. The picture to the right is an example of a computer printer, the Lexmark Z605 Inkjet printer.

Types of printers

Lexmark C782n laser printerBelow is a list of all the different types of computer printers. Today, the most common printers used with a computer are Inkjet and Laser printers.

Printer interfaces

USB cable and portThere are different interfaces or ways a printer can connect to the computer. Today, the most common cable and ways a printer connects to a computer is by using a USB or Wi-Fi connection. Below is a full list of cables and interfaces used to connect a computer to a printer.

History of the printer

The first mechanical printer was invented by Charles Babbage, for use with the Difference Engine, which Babbage developed in 1822. Babbage's printer utilized metal rods with printed characters on each rod to print text on rolls of paper that were fed through the device.

While inkjet printers started being developed in the late 1950s, it wasn't until the late 1970s that inkjet printers were able to reproduce good quality digital images. These better quality inkjet printers were developed by multiple companies, including Canon, Epson, and Hewlett-Packard.

In the early 1970s, Gary Starkweather invented the laser printer while working at Xerox. He modified a Xerox 7000 copier to essentially be a laser printer, by having a laser output electronic data onto paper. However, it wasn't until 1984 that laser printers became more widely and economically available when Hewlett-Packard introduced the first low-cost laser printer, the HP LaserJet. The following year, Apple introduced the Apple LaserWriter laser printer, adding the PostScript technology to the printer market.

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Also see: DPI, Output device, Paper jam, Print, Print preview, Printing terms