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HP LaserJet printer, 1984


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The HP LaserJet was the world's first desktop laser printer.

The HP LaserJet was the first desktop laser printer, introduced in 1984 at about $3,500. Nothing like it existed previously, and it created a totally new printer market—similar to what the HP-35 handheld calculator had done 12 years earlier. In December 2000, HP celebrated the shipment of the 50 millionth LaserJet printer.

In the 1980s, with the emergence of the personal computer market, owners of desktop computers wanted easy and direct access to their printers. Other manufacturers were producing two types of impact printers—dot-matrix or daisy-wheel units, both of which were noisy. In addition, dot-matrix printers had poor resolution, and daisy-wheels allowed only a limited number of fonts to be used. HP realized the field was wide open for product innovations.

HP had worked with Canon on laser printer technology as far back as the 1970s. This background, coupled with HP's knowledge of inkjet technology, led to the introduction of the first LaserJet in March 1984. The new personal laser printer fit on a desktop and produced fast, letter-quality output with virtually no noise.

As the primary printer for a small business or company department, the LaserJet printer was ideal for letterhead correspondence, memoranda, financial spreadsheets and other applications. It had high print quality, could print horizontally or vertically in a variety of character fonts and could produce graphics. The printer employed a disposable print cartridge capable of printing about 3,000 pages, and the print speed was 8 pages per minute. In addition, the LaserJet was virtually silent; office personnel could talk on the telephone while sitting next to the laser printer as it produced documents.

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