Dot matrix printers are said to be the long-standing constant of computer printing. Developed in the 1970’s and popularized in the 1980’s, dot matrix printers became fixtures to homes and businesses in the 1990’s; so much that it brought printing in the hands of the average consumer. Today, despite the advent of inkjet and laser printers, dot matrix printers are still used in financial establishments and retail outlets because of their quick initialization speeds and low cost.
Dot matrix printers have print heads that run back and forth through an ink ribbon as it strikes the paper soaked with ink. The resulting documents are drawn out from a matrix of dots, hence the name. The dot matrix layout gives certain flexibility for computers to print different fonts.
The first dot matrix printer was developed in 1970 in Massachusetts. Called the LA30, this dot matrix printer printed 80 columns of uppercase letters. With its primal print head, the dot matrix printer is noisy and unreliable. Following the LA 30, the LA36 broke into the market with its 132 column printing width. It eventually became the standard for dot matrix printing. The printer was attached via a serial cable. This allowed buffered communication between the computer and the printer that gave for faster printing speeds. From these two printers, dot matrix printing improved with updated terminal connections and improved features.
Dot matrix printers dominated the printing market during the 1990, with different printer model developed one after the other and each having different features, price ranges, and technical niche. As an example, dot matrix printer for the industry market are designed for high print speeds, high volume printing engineered, feed paths and custom configuration to help implement the business operation. Even today, industrial printers are standard instruments offered by brands such as PSi, Printronix, and Genicom. In the home front, inkjet printers marked its dominance in the 1990’s as it is superior to dot matrix printers on features such as print speed, quiet operation, and output quality. In the retail front, dot matrix printers are being replaced by thermal printing technology in POS operations. However, a dot matrix printer still has an effective niche for those who do not want to invest heavily in printing cost. While inkjet printers are priced cheaper than dot matrix printer, the average cost for the next printing page is much lower on dot matrix printers. At the same time, the crude design of dot matrix printers compared to inkjet and laser printers allows even the least computer literate user to perform maintenance such as ribbon replacement and printer cleaning.
Dot matrix impact printers can also make carbon copies. If the printer ink runs out, you will notice how the print output fades. However, it will not stop printing unlike other printers. Dot matrix printers are most useful for data logs since they can print continuously. Finally, dot matrix printers are ideal tools in tasks where print quality is not a high priority. If you want something done cheaply, dot matrix printing is the way to go.
This Article is written by John C Arkin.
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