Evolution of Color Printers

The history of printers goes back to 1938 when the first variety of it was introduced. This was the process of dry printing called electrophotography which over the years has come to be called a Xerox.


But when it comes to the history of color printers, story starts in 1977 when the first-ever color printout came into existence. There were three types of printers that appeared in the market at that time: dot matrix printers, inkjet printers and laser printers. Let’s understand each of them separately.


Dot Matrix

Dot matrix printers have a long history of their own but when it comes to color dot matrix printers, the history of color printers goes back to the time when multi-color ribbons were introduced in them. There was one great drawback though. The black ink section used to overpower the other colors thereby affecting the quality of printouts over a period of time.

So, while these printers were quite useful in printing graphics like a pie chart, their role in printing other types of color pictures wasn’t very good. Thermal transfer printers among dot matrix variety were more effective but they also had their own issues. Consequently, in the history of color printers, color printing through Dot Matrix printers didn’t become common.



Inkjet Printers

As the name itself suggests, these printers work with a variety of inks to provide color to printed pictures. The coloration occurs through the presence of aqueous inks made form water, glycol and dyes.


There are, though, some difficulties that manufacturers have faced in the history of color printers. Specially coated media is required to transfer the ink on to the paper in a safe way. Two other issues with inks in inkjet printers are that the aqueous ink is not waterproof and is also prone to fading when sunlight falls upon it. To counter this, pigment-based aqueous inks are used which are more durable.




Laser Printers

Color laser printers are based on the technology of colored toner or dry ink. Unlike monochrome printers, color laser printers have higher costs but the quality is much better of the printed pages.






Development of Color Printers in 1970s and 80s

The credit for developing personal computer printers goes to C Itoh Enterprises who pioneered the technology in 1976. But the history of color printers starts next year when a Japanese company, ‘Mitsushita’ used a prototype color monitor and successfully brought the colors onto the printed page as well.

IBM took over in the 1980’s and came up with color monitor printers that changed the market. However, there is one more company that played a leading role in the history of color printers and that was Canon. It was this company that in 1983, released the first consumer laser printer called Canon LPB-CX. With the arrival of these technologies, color printers became common throughout the world by the time we began understanding the history of color printers.

So, it can be said with clarity that color printers have come a long way since their humble beginnings in 1970’s and with technology continuing to improve, we can expect continued improvement. History of color printers is great but the future is even more exciting.