TFTNB: The First DeskJet Printer

In our on-going series looking at classic computing devices birthed at HP, we see not only what they did, but also get a better sense of what was happening at the time each product came to market. (For a full explanation of why we’re calling this “Tales from the Next Bench,” read here).


This installment: HP DeskJet printer (1988)


85i42E8BFA8C9AB2F15HP sure has come a long way with cloud- and Web-ready printers (for more on that, look for for this week's Smart Home Improvement installment all about ePrint technology that you'll find in printers like the new HP Photosmart e-All-in-One D110a). But it had to start somewhere. A few weeks ago, we talked about the first ThinkJet printer and this time, let’s look a little more into how modern printing went mainstream.


The HP DeskJet was the first mass-market inkjet printer. Customers knew its predecessor, the HP ThinkJet, because HP had been first to market with the inkjet printer. The name “DeskJet” was introduced to draw a clear distinction from the preceding inkjet printers.


The DeskJet offered continuous plain-paper printing and higher print quality than its inkjet predecessors. At about $1,000, it was the least expensive non-impact printer on the market at the time it was introduced. However, HP wanted to bring the price down even more. By 1993, it had sold well enough that the list price dropped to $365. Customers could now get a printer that was superior in every way to an impact printer (such as a dot-matrix printer or daisy wheel printer) for the same price. And by 1994, the DeskJet offered a color printing upgrade, creating single-handedly a revolution in color printing.


Perhaps the most significant technological achievement in the early days of HP's DeskJet printer was the creation of a very inexpensive, disposable print head that could be built into the ink cartridge itself. The value and efficiency of a disposable print head is in its ability to guarantee a consistently high level of print quality over the entire life of the printer. Competitors offered permanent print heads, which tended to clog and need replacement.


The DeskJet developed into HP's current Deskjet, Photosmart and Professional Series printer lines, all of which are based on thermal inkjet technology.


What else happened in 1988? Speaking of the written word, a couple other interesting developments happened in the same year. Archeaologists uncovered the original Globe Theater in London (where William Shakespere staged his productions) and for something a little more modern, Stephen Hawking published "A Brief History of Time."


As for modern technology, the first length of fiber optic cable was laid across the Atlantic Ocean in 1988. It was able to carry 40,000 telephone calls simultaneously. Me? I remember calling friends to come with me to watch Who Framed Roger Rabbit?


Have any memories you want to share from 1988? Any odd DeskJet printer stories? Share them with us in the comment boxes below!



Additional Information:

A six-sided image of a DeskJet printer


Take a journey inside an HP ink cartridge



by new print head
on ‎02-07-2011 09:06 PM
Thansk for sharing with us this HP DeskJet printer.Its very informative post. This post gives a great information about this printer. This information will be very useful. Thanks for this post.
by emeliavega
on ‎03-07-2011 07:51 AM

I really loved my thinkjet, thanks HP for great products!


by kolim

consistently high level of print quality over the entire life of the printer. Competitors offered permanent print heads

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