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What is a Printer?

Last Updated : 29 Aug, 2023
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A computer is an electronic device that takes input from the user, processes it, and gives the output. A computer processes the data at a very high speed and with high accuracy. It processes the input according to the set of instructions provided to it by the user and gives the desired output quickly. 

Basic Functions of Computers are Inputting the Data, Processing the Input as per the Instructions provided, Storing the result and then providing the users with the desired output.

Working of Printer

Components of Computer

  • Hardware: The physical part of the computer which we touch, and feel is called hardware.
    • Input Device: The input device that is used to take input data. Example- Keyboard, Mouse, Microphones, etc.
    • Output Devices: The output device that is used to output the result. Example- Printer, Speakers, Monitors, etc.
  • Software: Software is a set of instructions/tasks that the computer has to perform.

What is a Printer?

A printer is a device that accepts text and graphics output from a computer, and it transfers this information to paper, sheets. Printers can print any information that has been passed to it, whether it be Text, Numbers or Images. It depends on the type of printer that what quality or color the printed matter would be.


History of Printer

Charles Babbage introduced the first mechanical printer for use with a difference engine in 1822. Although inkjet printers were invented in the 1950s, they did not produce acceptable digital images until the 1970s. Different businesses, including as Epson, Canon, and Hewlett-Packard, created these printers.

Gary Starkweather created the laser printer while working at Xerox in the early 1970s by altering one of their model 7000 copiers. When Hewlett-Packard introduced the HP LaserJet printers in 1984, laser printers became more affordable and widespread. The next year, Apple introduced the Apple LaserWriter printer, which introduced PostScript technology to the printer market. Chuck Hull first demonstrated 3D printers in 1984. IBM invented the first dot matrix in 1957.

Qualities of Printers

  • Color: Colored printers can print in both i.e, colored and black-and-white. Hence, colored printers are more expensive than normal printers.
  • Resolution: Printer’s resolution is usually measured in dpi(dots per inch). Expensive printers have resolutions of about 550 to 600 dpi.
  • Speed: For printing a good amount of stuff you need to have a fast printer. Hence, speed is an important factor while considering printers.
  • Memory: It is also an important factor for printers as having enough memory will result in good speed and better performance.

Type of Printers

Depending upon the printing methods and the quality of images produced, printers are of two major types: 

  1. Impact Printers
  2. Non-Impact Printers

Impact Printers

This type of printer works with paper via direct contact with an ink ribbon. It has similar mechanisms as of typewriter.


Impact Printer

Examples of Impact Printer are Daisy-Wheel Printers, Dot -Matrix Printers, Line Printers, etc.

1. Daisy-Wheel Printers: Daisy wheel printing is a mechanical impact printing technology. It is called daisy-wheel because its printing mechanism looks like a daisy. Its speed is usually 25-50 characters per second. 

2. Dot-Matrix Printers: The Dot-Matrix printers uses 9 to 24 pin print heads depending upon the quality print required. 24 pin printers produce more clarity that 9 pins dot-matrix printer. More number of pins results in more clarity. Usually inexpensive and speed ranges between 100 and 550 characters per second.

3. Line Printers: Line Printers (also called line-at-a-time printers) ,as the name suggests it can print whole line at once. Speed ranges somewhere between 1,000 to 6,000 lines per minute.

Non-Impact Printers

Non-Impact Printers do not need to touch the ink ribbon to print the documents. Maintenance of Non-Impact printers is easier than Impact printers.


Non Impact Printer

Examples of non impact printer are Inkjet printers, Laser Printers and etc.

1. Inkjet Printers: The inkjet printers are the most common and widely used printers in both professional and domestic settings. It is popular due to its numerous advantages and very few drawbacks.

Advantages of Inkjet printers

  • Capable of printing highly detailed and photo elastic prints.
  • Small footprints
  • Environment friendly
  • Compact Design
  • Versatile 
  • Best Picture and Image quality

Disadvantages of Inkjet Printers

  • Higher cost per page than laser printers
  • Less Reliable
  • Slow print speed

2. Laser Printers: Laser Printers were developed by Xerox in 1960s. The majority of laser printers use light, photoreceptor belts, and photosensitive drums.  During print, the laser will scan page line by line. The most accepted writing method is black and white lasers, which print content in black text.

Advantages of Laser Printers

  • Cost-effective than inkjet printers.
  • High print speed.
  • Expandable with paper trays, finishes, etc.
  • High paper capacity.

Disadvantages of Laser Printers

  • Large footprints.
  • High voltage usage.

3. LED Printers: LED Printers are quite similar to Laser Printers, but it uses LED instead of laser to create pictures/images. LED printers are considered are more efficient and reliable than laser printers.  

Advantages of LED Printers

  • Efficient
  • Reliable
  • Cheaper than laser printers.

Printer – FAQs

1. Who invented the printer?

There have been many different types of printers developed over the history of the printer. Therefore, no specific inventor for the printer has been named. However, Charles Babbage invented the first mechanical printing machine in the 1800s with the aid of his Difference Engine. For a list of the various people and businesses responsible for the other modern printer types, see the section after this one.

2. Which is the most commonly used printer?

The most commonly used printer can vary depending on the environment of where it’s used. For home and family users, inkjet printers are the most commonly used because of their initial price. For office environments, laser printers are the most common.

3. Does using a printer require a computer?

Older printers did need to be used and controlled by a computer. However, more recent printers may connect to your wireless network and be used without a computer due to the prevalence of smartphones, tablets, and Wi-Fi.

4. How to print a document, picture, or another file from printer?

Each file and document are unique, as are the programs used to open them. As a result, we can only provide a brief summary of the printing process. The printing process has been standardized by many systems.

  • Open the file or document you wish to print.
  • Open the file menu by selecting File and then Print from the drop-down menu in the top-right corner of the application window or browser you are now using.

Otherwise, A Print properties window appears and select specify additional printing options like number of copies. Once you’ve clicked the options, select Ok or Print to start the printing process.

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