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Unveiling The Origins: When Were Printers Invented?

The origins of printers have a fascinating history which we jump into in our latest blog.

Posted by Stef Cowie

Remarkably, printing can be traced back to around 3500 BC. During that time, the Persian and Mesopotamian civilizations used cylinder seals to certify their clay-written documents.

As time went on, printing techniques advanced, from woodblock printing to moveable type, until the printing press was finally invented in 1440. Since then, people have been discovering new ways and techniques to duplicate printed materials.

The First Printer

Printing in computing refers to the creation of a lasting representation of graphics or text on paper. The initial computer printer was designed by Charles Babbage for his Difference Engine in the 19th century. This mechanical device was intended to generate accurate tables, a laborious task when done manually. However, the printer for the Difference Engine was not constructed until the year 2000.


Although Babbage had designed the printer 150 years earlier, there was never an opportunity to complete the Difference Engine or its accompanying printer. The Science Museum in London took on the task and finished building the printer in 2000, via Babbage’s original blueprints. The printer now automatically prints the results of calculations performed by the Difference Engine.

The First Electronic Printer

The EP-101 was developed by a Japanese company Epson in 1968 and holds the distinction of being the first electronic printer. It was a compact printer, measuring only 164 millimetres in width, 102 millimetres in height, and 135 millimetres in depth. Despite the small size, it weighed just 2.5 kilograms. Epson (Shinshu Seiki Co.) created it while working for the Seiko Group.

Olympic Games Epson Printer


The Seiko Group officially became the timekeeper for the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. They required a machine to print out the times recorded by their timepieces, and thus the Epson EP-101 was born.

1980s Desktop Publishing

Early commercial printers utilised mechanisms from electric typewriters and Teletype machines. As the demand for faster systems specifically designed for computers grew, throughout the 1980s there was an abundance of affordable laser printers for homes and businesses.

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The first HP LaserJet, released in 1984, created a revolution known as desktop publishing which combined text and graphics, rivalling the quality previously only achievable with commercial typesetting systems.

By 1990, most printing tasks, including the creation of brochures, were being done on personal computers and then laser printed, replacing traditional offset printing systems. The HP Deskjet was a popular option for many but there were many others with similar advantages from the 1980s.

Barcode Printers

In addition to printing regular text and graphics, some commercial printers are required for barcodes. Typically, barcode printers are computer peripherals specifically designed for printing barcode labels.

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These labels can be attached to physical objects or printed directly on them. For instance, they are frequently used to label boxes for shipping or to label retail items that are scanned in stores when customers make a purchase.

Wireless Printers

Wireless printers have become the go-to choice for many consumers, with a significant presence in the printer market.

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In fact, in 2010, wireless printers made up half of all printer sales in the US. It’s remarkable to reflect on the centuries of printing advancements that have led us to this point, where printing has become a seamless part of our daily lives.

All-in-one Printers

The printers of the early ’90s experienced a remarkable evolution. The emergence of all-in-one printers brought a new level of convenience as they integrated printing, scanning, faxing, and copying capabilities into one compact machine, saving space and cutting down on maintenance and equipment costs.


Looking for a large-format printer?

We provide wide-format printers to the construction and planning industry as well as others. For more details please contact us with your requirements.

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