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History of Laser Printers




1967  Gary Starkweather, acknowledged as inventing the concept of the laser printer at Xerox using a Xerographic printing process, is on record as saying, "One day in 1967, I was sitting in my lab looking at all of these big mainframes when I started thinking, 'What if, instead of copying someone else's original, which is what a facsimile does, we used a computer to generate the original?' "


Image source modified: – Public Domain

1969  Starkweather developed an initial prototype using adapted Xerox copier technology with a disabled imaging system, a laser and a spinning drum with 8 mirrored sides. 




1971  Starkweather undertook research into developing the first working laser printer called SLOT, an acronym for Scanned Laser Output Terminal.

1972  Starkweather presented the world's first working laser printer at PARC called EARS (Ethernet, Alto, Research character generator, Scanned laser output terminal) in combination with Lampson and Rider who developed the digital control system and character generator for the printer.

1973  Various working laser printers were in operation and networked at the Xerox PARC laboratory.


1976  IBM Model 3800 was the first laser printer implemented for the business environment which was capable of producing 20,000 lines per minute.

1977  Industry's first commercial laser printer was introduced, the Xerox 9700, which was capable of producing 120 pages per minute, occupied over 20m2 of space and cost $500,000.




1980  HP produced the first personal laser printer that was fast and inexpensive enough for use outside a central computer room.

1981  Xerox Star 8010 ($17,000) system had the first laser printer designed for use in an office environment. The system used desktop workstations connected via ethernet and changed notions of how interactive systems should be designed. It enabled the creation, retrieval and distribution of documents and other files as well as the ability to share access to printers and servers.

1984  HP LaserJet 8ppm ($3500), capable of 300 dpi, was targeted specifically for the rapidly growing PC community and mass market appeal. It had an 8 MHz processor with 128 Kb memory and quickly became the world's most popular personal desktop laser printer and HP's most successful single product to date.

1985  Apple LaserWriter for the Apple Mac was introduced.

1986  Apple LaserWriter Plus Laser Printer became available.




1990  HP’s LaserJet IIP was the first laser printer to retail at less than 1000 US dollars.

1992  The first 600x600 dpi resolution printer, the HP LaserJet 4, used an Intel i960 RISC processor and cost $1,400 for a PCL printer and $1,900 for a PostScript version.

1993  The first desktop color laser printer appeared, the QMS ColorScript Laser 1000, which retailed for $12,499. Although very large and heavy by today’s standards, it compared very favourably to its contemporaries that were room sized, dedicated machines costing 2 to 3 times as much.


  • Intel i960 processor
  • 12MB RAM
  • Monochrome printing 8 ppm (pages per minute)
  • Colour printing 2 ppm
  • 300 dpi
  • Postscript level 1 and 2 with emulation for HP’s PCL5C
  • 65 resident PostScript scalable fonts
  • 250 Sheet input tray
  • Parallel, Serial and LocalTalk connections
  • Direct Lan Connection
  • Supported: EtherTalk, Netware, TCP/IP on Ethernet networks,
  • NetWare, TCP/IP on Token Ring networks

These printers were clearly marketed towards the corporate community and focussed on stressing that these fast ‘work horses’ were a valuable and cost effective business investment. They combined the best elements of available laser and inkjet technology including speedy and high quality printing, network support, high duty cycles, low costs per page, less maintenance and a significant opportunity for extra business by being able to produce wide format documents and posters.

1994  HP Color LaserJet printer with an average cost per page of less than 10 cents was able to offer businesses a cost-effective alternative to print shops.

1995  The first color laser printer introduced from Apple 12/600PS ($7,000) came with a 30MHz AMD 29030 processor, 12Mb of RAM (max. 40Mb) and produced documents with a resolution of 600x600 dpi. In addition, the 49.9 kg printer had 8Mb ROM, Level 2 PostScript interpreter, LocalTalk, Ethernet and a parallel port and could print up to 12 black and white pages or 3 color pages per minute.

1998  Kyocera  introduced the 4-colour printer with a resolution of 1200x1200 dots per square inch.




2006  September, HP shipped its 100 millionth LaserJet printer since selling its first LaserJet printer in 1984.


Laser printers have continued to become more powerful, smaller and cheaper. Records for a given aspect are broken regularly and the knock-on effect from competing manufacturers continually pushing the technological envelope, is that what was once available only to big corporations and the very rich, is now increasingly mainstream and within the price range of general consumers.


1 History of Laser Printers
2 How do Laser Printers Work?
3 LED and LCD Printers - Are these Laser Printers?
4 Laser Printer and Photocopier - What is the Difference?
5 Laser Printer Paper - A3 Size and its Equivalent
6 Toner Cartridges - What are the Different Types?
7 Choosing a Laser Printer – How to Make an Informed Choice
8 Where to buy a Laser Printer and its Consumables - High Street v Internet
9 Basic Maintenance of Laser Printer
10 Who uses A3 Laser Printers?
11 A3 Laser Printers compared to A4 Laser Printers
12 A3 Colour Laser Printers compared to A3 Monochrome Laser Printers
13 A3 Colour Laser Printers compared to A3 Colour Inkjet Printers
14 Why does a Laser Printer cost more to buy than an Inkjet Printer?
15 Laser Printers: Health and Safety

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