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Laser printers were invented in the 1960’s by a Gary Starkweather. He used a modified version of a xerographic copier to produce the first ‘laser printer’ prototype.

By the early 1970’s Gary had perfected the printer further by allowing the printer to be fully integrated into a network.

In 1981, the Xerox star 8010 became the first laser printer developed for office use. Despite this it was only bought by a small amount of companies due to its $17,000 price tag. Once more personal computers started to appear in homes, the laser printer HP Laserjet 8 PPM. Ironically, this worked on a Canon motor. HP only developed the software to control the machine itself. It wasn’t long before a number of other manufacturers started to develop the laser printer.

So how does a laser printer work…

Laser printers are quite different in their approach than a photocopier for example. An image is projected by a laser beam onto a rotating drum. The drum is charged electrically, and coated in a photoconductor. Areas exposed to the light cause the charge to be removed, thanks to Photoconductivity. Toner particles which are electrostatically charged are then attracted to the areas which have not had light exposure. The image is subsequently printed onto the paper through contact with the heated drum, as the ink particles are fused on the paper’s surface. Toner is available in 4 colours – Black, cyan, magenta and yellow. By combining the various toner particles during the fusion process, the colour of the image can be projected in full glory in the same colours that are displayed in the image itself.

Laser printers were first introduced on a commercial level in 1976 with the primary use of printing large volumes of documents. Back then the printers themselves would take up a huge amount of space in the office.

The laser printer is an innovation in itself. They’re now readily available and economically viable to all. Even a top end laser printer designed for home / small office use can be purchased at a very reasonable price. Not only that, they’re consistently evolving as more and more features are now available.

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