A printer is an essential peripheral on a computer system for getting human readable copies of graphics and text on any physical media like paper. Printers are found in almost all the places that use computers for their day to day functioning. A mechanical printer invented in the 19th century itself by Charles Babbage for this Differential Engine became the first computer printer.
This was the forefather of many of the impact printers that were designed later. The commercially available printers for personal computers started to appear in the market in the later part of the 1970’s. The earlier designs of the printers were taken mostly from the type- writer and the teletype machines.
These printers were slow and clumsy and could not cope up with the demands of the emerging needs for faster printing. Improved systems of printing were felt necessary to meet the demands of the fast changing computer scenario during the 1980s and 1990s. New types of printers with entirely different technologies arrived in the market purely for use with the personal computers that became very common during this period.
The dot-matrix printers, laser printers and inkjet printers were produced in many types and shapes and specification to cater to the different needs of the emerging computer users during the last decades of the last millennium.
Many printing systems came into being during the 1980s. The daisy wheel printers that functioned like the yesteryear typewriters, the line printers that were able to print at very high speeds became more common among the new systems of printers available to the computer users of those periods.
Yet another important type of printer that became very common and occupied most of the offices and houses is the dot- matrix printer that combined the ability of printing both the text and graphics at very affordable prices. These printers become backbone of many institutions due to their ability to works as a part of vast computer networks as well as their ability to offer a reasonable quality of printing output at the lowest possible per page costs.
The Laser printers first came into the market in 1984 with the introduction of HP LaserJet series and Apple made its contribution to printers by adding PostScript to its existing line of Apple Laser Writer. These led to the emerging of a new industry of desk top publishing built around the capabilities of the newly introduced laser and other high resolution multi-colour printing devices.
With the introduction of HP DeskJet series of inkjet printers in the year 1988, a new revolution happened in the world of printing of personal documents. This offered great flexibility, affordability and high quality printing through less expensive and simple printing mechanisms. Due to this, the dot- matrix and daisy wheel printers hitherto enjoying a prominent place in the computing world were forced to take a backseat and were slowly replaced by the new printing technologies.
By the starting of the new millennium, the cost of these high quality printers including that of the laser printers saw great fall in prices and for less than $100 you can buy a very good printer either for your office or your home. Due to this, these new types of printers became very common among the computer users and the dot-matrix and other types of printers using older technologies are fast becoming extinct in the mainline computer based environments.
Moreover, with the emergence of Internet and the facilities available through it like email for creation, storage and transmission of personal and official documents, the need for printing of documents in physical media like papers etc are becoming lesser and lesser necessary in the present days.
We also have very easy ways of storing vast amounts of data in flash drives and other memory devices so that the need to take a print outs of routine business and personal data is fast disappearing hence lessening the needs for computer printers. Due to these and other reasons the dependence on printers connected to your computer is becoming less and hence now you can easily use the computer data without taking a print-out.
The use of the more clumsy low- quality printers like dot matrix printers and similar technologies are being fast phased out and they are in use only in very few specialised usage areas like point of sale printers where it is used for printing receipts for purchases etc.
The dot matrix printers original from the family of impact based printers as they use a matrix of carefully arranged metallic pins on the printing strike head. These pins impact on the inked ribbon to make impressions in the shape of characters and graphics. These printers are designed to operate at good speeds and can be used to give large volumes of printed outputs.
These types of printers have 9 or 24 pins and depending on the number of pins the quality of their printing varies. These printers are available as ballistic wire printers or stored energy printers, and they can be either line based or character based depending on the configuration of the print head. By using multi coloured ribbons these printers can be upgraded to print in multi colours.
When the inkjet printers were available at prices comparable to the dot matrix printers, these began losing their market, and are now completely wiped out of the common use. But still the dot matrix printers are seen in some of the low cost, low quality commercial applications like use in the cash registers, or in high volume price conscious applications like invoice printing in commercial organisations. With their impact printing capability these can be used easily for printing multi-part documents using carbonless copy papers.
Dot matrix printers are still commonly used in low-cost, low-quality applications
For low cost applications, dot matrix printers are still the best low quality printing solution commonly available for hardware such as cash registers. They can be used along with receipt paper rolls to print multiple ply receipts using carbon-less copy paper, like sales and credit card receipts. Thus these printers can be used even in places where other printing methods are unusable with papers of this type. Dot-matrix printers are now being displaced by other technologies even in these areas.
The present day Dot matrix Point of sale terminal printers are very compact in size and are robust in construction. Popular use is often kitchen printers in hotels, and point of sale systems utilising eftpos paper rolls have become widespread throughout the world as the most popular choice for receipt printing with credit or debit card transactions.
These impact printers are designed to print on multi-ply papers for multiple copies and very versatile in operation at high speeds and can print at various print qualities up to 160 dots per inch. They are very fast in printing action and print at 5 lines or more per second. These can be used for printing barcodes labels also.
These printers come with multiple ports capability and have one or more serial ports, cash drawer ports, and some of them come with USB connectivity too.
These matrix Point of sale terminal printers can print on a variety of papers in the size of 57/ 58 till rolls, or 76mm wide till rolls, and are equipped with automatic paper cutter for ease of use.
Some of the printers can print in two colours and have the capability to print graphics along with text also. As such these dot matrix printers are also used as receipt printers in cash registers and other places where there is a need to issue transaction slips/receipts.