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Dot Matrix Printers

dot matrix printersStep back in time 20 or 30 years in the printing industry, and the dot matrix printer was all the rage. They were the first type of printer that consumers could purchase and print as they needed from home. Step forward to today, and dot matrix printers may have a dinosaur-like quality about them, but they are still used in the retail industry and financial institutions because of quick start times and relatively low cost.

How does a dot matrix printer work then? They have print heads that move back and forth across a ribbon while that ribbon moves over the paper. The printout is taken from a matrix of dots, and that is where the printer got its name. Unfortunately, as anyone who has used one can attest, dot matrix printers are not quiet. First developed in 1970 in Massachusetts, the LA30 as it was called was able to print 80 columns of uppercase letters. The next printer on the market was an LA36, which offered users a printing width of 132 columns and survived as the standard in dot matrix printing for a time.

The most prolific reign of the dot matrix printer was the 1980s and early 1990s, while lasers and inkjets were basically in their nascent stages. They were known for quick output speeds as well as being able to handle a high volume of printing. As time went on, inkjet printers began to capture more of the home market away from dot matrix printers due to improved speed, output quality, and quietness. Today inkjet printers, as well as laser printers have taken over the home front, as the costs of technology have gone down. Dot matrix printers are slowly being forced into extinction in retail stores as well, due to the rise of POS thermal printers (though they have a somewhat high cost of upkeep).

Dot matrix printers, while used sparingly, are still a reasonable choice for businesses needing continuous feeds of paper and high print quality is not in demand. One other thing worth mentioning about these machines is unlike inkjets and laser printers, as the ink gets low, they will continue to print, but the text will fade.

About William Elward

Founder of Castle Ink, William Elward has 20 years experience in the printer industry. He's been featured on CNN Money, Yahoo, PC World, Computer World, and other top publications and frequently blogs about printers and ink cartridges. He's an expert at diagnosing printer issues and has published guides to fixing common printer issues across the internet. A graduate of Bryant University and Columbia's Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program, he's held various leadership positions at The College Board, Bankrate, Zocdoc, and Everyday Health. Follow him on Twitter at William Elward's Twitter Profile