FROM QUILL TO CARTRIDGE." Evolution Of Printers"

The evolution of printing, documentation and recording is complex and long. 

The human being has always wanted to retain what they experience. The human’s wish to evidence events is a habitual one and was practiced even by the troglodyte.  The Paleolithic age to its credit has carved arts to remind us of our origins and more than that it pointedly spread knowledge. Instead of just restricting their knowledge, they chose to dissipate it - to communicate better and develop an ameliorated understanding to what lay around them

The preliminary form of rationalized printing was in the form of the IClay – the world’s first tablet reproduced by the Sumerians. Considered as one of the first urban community and civilizations, the Sumerians flourished in the historical arena of Southern Mesopotamia (present day Southern Iraq).

 Their motivation to ‘document’ data was to invent writing for the advancement of language. Round cylinder seals were employed to roll impressions on to clay tablets. 


By AD 868 the Diamond Sutra was the world’s earliest and first printed book to be published. Dating back to precisely May 11, 868, the book was the property of the T’ang dynasty. The scroll is about 16 feet in length and a foot in height and was accidentally stumbled upon in a cave at Dunhuang in the early 19th century.

Diamond Sutra

By 1397 AD, type characters using cast metal were being printed in Japan and China. Bed & Platen printing was an American sustenance invented by Daniel Treadwell, who even patented the model. Subsequently, in 1832 Hoe’s Cylindrical-Bed Press was invented by Richard Hoe that was quicker. 

A patent had already been filed and arranged by William Nicholson in 1790 for a rotary press for which Richard Hoe invented the drum that was better than the earlier designs in 1844. William Bullock, also an American inventor, remodeled Richard Hoe’s Rotary Printing Press and revolutionized the printing industry by incorporating speed and efficiency into print production. He placed endless and large rolls of paper into curved stereotype plates built for the purpose.

It was only Johannes Gutenberg’s invention that mass communication improved marking the Western Culture’s need to disseminate ideas and information obtained from a single source to large audiences.

 It was a rigid combination of culture, social, psychological, political and technological forces that had unfolded over several centuries that gestated into mass communication. Gutenberg was a goldsmith and a business man who even borrowed money to confront the printing gridlock. 

A wave of change spread rapidly across Europe starting in the 1450s leading to a desideratum of documentation with the development of trade and economy. In 1889, a Linotype/Monotype machine was invented in Gutenberg’s workshop that could conveniently print full sets of lines. 

Between 1906 and 1911 the Monotype and Linotype designs were incorporated into the keyboard of a typewriter. Chester Carlson in 1938 invented a procedure of printing images with the help of a dry toner powder and an electrically-charged drum. 

universal automatic computer

The primordial name of the Xerox was ‘xerography’, which meant dry printing. Thereafter, the first high-speed printer was manufactured by Remington-Rand in 1953 for being used on the Univac or Universal Automatic Computer. About the same time, Daisy S. Lee of Diablo Data invented the Daisy Wheel Printer, which was an impact printing technology. It was fashioned on the same principle as the ball-head typewriter.

By 1970, print technology achieved predominance and one of the first Dot Matrix printers the LA30 was produced by Digital Equipment Corporation. 

dot matrix printer

The automation used dots instead of whole keys to print characters on paper. In 1971, the first laser printer EARS (Ethernet Alto Research Character generator Scanned laser output terminal) was invented by Gary Starkweather within just a few months of his joining PARC. It functioned on the lines of the Xerox Copier Technology but with an additional a laser beam. 

In 1984, the first HP LaserJet entered the market and was the first desktop laser printer. Inkjet printers were smart and changed the face of printing technology as we know it today. And so in 1988, the first inkjet printer was invented that offered high-quality and seamless plain-paper printing.

Between 2003 and 2009, the digital era arrived and there was a swift progress in printing technology. Zoho Corp gave the world Additive Manufacturing otherwise known as 3D printing

In the same year, The Eastman Kodak Company known to the world as Kodak introduced the first Printer-And-Camera-Dock and the Easy Share Printer. Consumers could insert their cameras into a machine provided to them and the photos would print themselves out. 

Epson went a step ahead again in the same year and granted the world the freedom of mobility by introducing wireless printers. Then, in the year 2009, Xerox introduced the Colorqube Technology that made the world colorful, because printouts were now in color.

The future is definitely bright for printing technology with the advent of a range of devices that turn digital 3D models into solid objects.

AUTHORED BY : "Jessica Fiaz.[Jessica Fiaz is a hardware professional who dedicates herself to finding erstwhile solutions to printer dilemmas besides contributing constructive technical content to social media]"

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