The DeskJet Turns 25


deskjet.jpgIt’s 1988. Michael Jackson’s top the music charts, big hair is still in and people other than football players wear big shoulderpads. It’s also the year – 25 years ago – that the first HP DeskJet printer turned the print industry upside down.


Now understand, before then most of us didn’t have a printer at home or even desk-side. Printing was a labor of love, requiring patience and a big budget to match. Back then, LaserJets were $3,500—ouch! There was no easy print-from-home solution or even the thought of something like HP ePrint. So you get my point. Printing just wasn’t happening for the rest of us.


Before there was an HP Printing and Imagining Group at HP, we knew that having the option to print easily in the office or at home was key and it was just a question of making it happen. So At HP, a group of engineers put their heads together and set a few goals:


  • Get written about in The Wall Street Journal
  • Ship 1 million units
  • Grow Deskjet into a $1 billion business

In a relatively short time, they went from a few ideas to creating a machine that would revolutionize the way we think of printing today. So what made the DeskJet so special for its time?


The price point at $995 was pretty inexpensive for a printer and it offered continuous plain-paper printing with better print quality. In comparison to the dot-matrix or “daisy wheel” printer, the print quality was superior with less effort. 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. It was a new way to think about thermal inkjet technology.


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.


So....what were you printing up 25 years ago?



BONUS: Check out this sweet interactive timeline with more details (and goes even further back to show about what's happened over the past couple decades (in printing)

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