Updated: 12/29/2017 by Computer Hope

A scanner may refer to any of the following:

Flatbed scanner

1. When referring to hardware, a scanner or optical scanner is a hardware input device that optically "reads" and image and converts it into a digital signal. For example, a scanner may be used to convert a printed picture, drawing, or document (hard copy) into a digital file which can be edited on a computer. The picture shows an example of a flatbed scanner, the Epson V300.

How is a scanner connected?

A scanner can be connected to a computer using many different interfaces although today is most commonly connected to a computer using a USB cable.

Other types of computer scanners

There are also other types of scanners that can be used with a computer.

  • Sheetfed scanner - scans paper by feeding it into the scanner
  • Handheld scanner - scans text and images by dragging the device over the page you want to scan
  • Card scanner - designed to scan business cards

A handheld scanner should not be confused with a barcode reader.

When was the first scanner created?

The earliest forms of scanners appeared in the 1860s. However, the scanner as we know it today was created in 1957 by a man named Russell Kirsch at the United States National Bureau of Standards. The first image scanned by this device was a picture of Kirsch's son. This black and white image measured only 5x5 cm and had a resolution of 176 pixels on each side.

Why is a scanner an input device?

A computer scanner is a digitizer, which is a type of input device. It takes information from the real world (e.g., a document or picture) and converts it into digital information for a computer to store or manipulate. A scanner is only able to send information to the computer and cannot receive information from the computer like a printer (which is an output device).

2. When referring to software, a scanner may refer to any program that scans computer files for errors or other problems. An example is an antivirus program, which scans the files on the computer for viruses or other malware.

Accessory, Photocopier, Picture, Scan, Scanner terms