Note: This is the third post in a four-part series discussing the history of printing. Check back here for the final installment! Read Part I and Part II to catch up.

Inventors had made dramatic advancements in printing technology—from the invention of movable type to lithography printing—but the most radical improvement was yet to come. In 1953, computers changed the landscape of technology, ushering in the kind of printing we are most familiar with today.

Computer Printing

Remington-Rand developed the first high-speed printer in 1953, pairing it with the still-fledgling Univac computer. Of course, this printer and this computer looked very little like the much smaller and efficient devices we use today: the Univac weighed a whopping 29,000 pounds and took up almost 400 square feet of floor space.

Thankfully, computer technology advanced rapidly through the end of the century, and printing advanced with it. Xerox Palo Alto Research Center introduced the first laser printer, called EARS, in 1971. Laser printers became faster as other competitors entered the market, including IBM with its first installation in 1976.

Inkjet technologies were invented alongside laser, but inkjet did not become a popular home consumer item until the late ’80s when Hewlett-Packard released the first of their popular DeskJet series. The first inkjet printer, a pioneering advancement, cost an astonishing $1,000.

The Impact of the Digital Age

With the rise of the computer, letterpress printing quickly died. Some estimates suggest that there are more words printed every second now than there were printed every year during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Today, print technology progresses every day, bringing efficiency and affordability to countless offices and homes.