HP LaserJet

HP LaserJet

LaserJet is the brand name used by the American computer company Hewlett-Packard (HP) for their line of dry electrophotographic (DEP) laser printers.


HP LaserJets employ electro-photographic laser marking engines sourced from the Japanese company Canon. Most early printers used internal firmware, controllers, associated software, and drivers developed internally by HP and were considered their "value add" to the standard printer engines.

The first HP LaserJet and the first Apple Inc. LaserWriter used the same Canon print engine. The internal engine evolution differences were mostly superficial, with the main difference being in the onboard RIP controller, and the user-interface evolution (discussed below). This sharing of an identical Canon engine in two competing products continued with the HP LaserJet II/III and the Apple LaserWriter II, which also used the same internal Canon print engines.

Beginning with the LaserJet 4000, HP nearly completely outsourced its print-engine evolution work to Oak Technology, now Zoran Corporation, among many other suppliers, creating a much greater divergence in print-engine evolution between Apple and HP.



The first laser printer for IBM Compatible personal computers was introduced in 1984 by HP as the LaserJet (now called LaserJet Classic). It was a 300-dpi, 8 ppm printer that sold for $3,495.

It featured an 8 MHz processor and the Courier typeface. It was controlled using PCL3. Due to the high cost of memory, the first LaserJet only had 128 kilobytes of memory, and a portion of that was reserved for use by the print engine. This rendered the LaserJet nearly useless for direct graphical image printing, with it only capable of printing a low-resolution 75-dpi image about 1 inch square before running out of memory (larger graphics were printed by having the printer driver stream the image to the printer in real-time as the rasterizor printed the page). It took approximately two minutes for the first page to print out.

Instead the first LaserJet was primarily intended for use as a high-speed professional replacement for text-only daisy wheel impact printers and dot matrix printers. By using control codes it was possible to change the printed text style using font patterns stored in permanent ROM in the printer. Although unsupported by HP, because the Laserjet used the same basic PCL language spoken by HP's other printers it was possible to use the Laserjet on HP 3000 multiuser systems.

The LaserJet Plus followed in November 1985, priced at $3,995. It introduced "soft fonts," treatments like bold and italic and other features including a parallel (Centronics) interface. It also included 512 kilobytes of memory, which was just enough to print graphics at 300 dpi that covered about 70% of the letter-size page area.

In March 1986, HP introduced the LaserJet 500, which featured high-capacity duty cycle of 1,000 pages a month. In 1986, desktop publishing came to the world of IBM PC's and compatibles, after its origin on the Apple Macintosh and Apple LaserWriter. The HP LaserJet, along with Aldus PageMaker and Microsoft Windows, was central to the PC-based solution, and while lacking the perceived elegance of Apple's approach, this multi-vendor solution was available to a mass audience for the first time.

HP introduced the world's first mass market laser printer, the LaserJet series II, in March 1987, list priced at $2,695. Many 20-year-old LaserJet II's (and its successor, the mechanically-similar LaserJet III) remain in use as reliable workhorses in offices and publishing houses; corroboration may be found by noting that LaserJet II toner cartridges remain one of the most popular toner cartridges at stationery and office supply stores. These printers are also often acquired used by individuals, thus avoiding sending the still-usable device to landfills. Also in March 1987, the LaserJet 2000 was launched. A high-end, networkable workhorse, the LaserJet 2000 offered a duty cycle of 70,000 pages per month and the standard 300-dpi output, initially priced at $19,995.

In June 1988, HP shipped its 1 millionth LaserJet printer.

In September 1989, HP introduced the first "personal" version of the HP LaserJet printer series, the LaserJet IIP. Priced at $1,495 by HP, it was half the size and price of its predecessor, the LaserJet II. It offered 300-dpi output and 4 ppm printing with PCL 4 enhancements such as support for compressed bitmapped fonts and raster images. Retailers predicted a street price of $1000 or less, making it the world’s first sub-$1,000 laser printer. The LaserJet IIP (and its successor, the IIIP) were extremely reliable except for scanner failures, diagnosable by the lack of the familiar "dentist drill" whine and a "52" error displayed on the control panel; aftermarket replacement scanner assemblies remain readily available to this day.


In March 1990 the newest model, the LaserJet III, priced at $2,395, was introduced with two new features: Resolution Enhancement technology (REt), which dramatically increased print quality, and HP PCL 5. Thanks to PCL 5, text scaling was easy, and thus customers were no longer restricted to 10 and 12-point type sizes. This had a dramatic effect on word processing software market.

The world's first mass-market Ethernet network printer, the HP LaserJet IIISi, was introduced in March 1991. Priced at $5,495, it featured a high-speed, 17 ppm engine, 5MB of memory, 300-dpi output, REt and such paper handling features as job stacking and optional duplex printing. The LaserJet IIISi also was HP’s first printer to offer onboard Adobe PostScript as opposed to the font-cartridge solution offered on earlier models.

In October 1992, HP introduced its first printer with 600-dpi output and Microfine toner, the LaserJet 4, bringing publication-quality printing to the desktop. It was also the first LaserJet to ship with TrueType fonts, which ensured the printer fonts exactly matched the fonts displayed on the computer screen. Priced at $2,199.

In April 1994, HP shipped its 10 millionth LaserJet printer.

In September 1994 HP introduced the Color LaserJet, HP's first color laser printer. The printer had an average cost per page of less than 10 cents. The Color LaserJet offered 2 ppm color printing and 10 ppm for black text, 8MB of memory, 45 built-in fonts, a 1,250 sheet paper tray and enhanced PCL 5 with color. Priced at $7,295.

In April 1996, HP introduced the LaserJet 5 family of printers. They offered HP PCL 6, an improved printer language for noticeably faster output – especially with complex, graphics-intensive documents. They also featured 600-dpi output with REt, and a 12 ppm engine. Prices started from $1,629.

Also in 1996, HP introduced the network-ready LaserJet 5Si, a major revision and upgrade to the 3Si (IIISi) and 4Si, which were based on the Canon NX engine. The 5Si used the Canon WX engine, which enabled it to provide 11"x17" printing at an unprecedented 24 pages per minute and at 600 dpi with resolution enhancement. An internal duplexer enabled full-speed double-sided printing. Automatic personality switching (between PCL and PostScript), a feature which first appeared on the 4SiMX, was standard on the 5SiMX. The 5Si series were true workhorses, but initial models were somewhat hobbled by a vulnerability to slightly low voltage (i.e. crashing if mains voltage was less than 120 Volts) as well as a weak clutch in Tray 3 (thus resulting in paper jamming for Tray 3 as well as the optional 2000-sheet Tray 4), and also a weak solenoid in the manual feed tray (Tray 1). These paper-handling issues were easily dealt with. Many 5Si LaserJets remain in service today.

In 1997, HP introduced the HP LaserJet 4000 family of printers. They offered features from the HP LaserJet 5 plus higher resolution of 1200DPI these are mostly used in offices, and most recently in people's homes to mainly replace the HP LaserJet 4/5 series if the user have them previously, In 1999 HP released the HP LaserJet 4050 series that was identical to the HP 4000 but with a faster formatter and an easily-accessible paper-registration area. (This is the area where the paper is stopped, registered, and then advanced for printing. A flip-up cover here made clearing of this component easier.) The 4000 series, as well as the 4050 and the 4100, used duplexers of a partly external design.

The world’s first mass-market all-in-one laser device, the HP LaserJet 3100 was introduced in April 1998. Users could print, fax, copy, and scan with a single appliance.

In July 1998, HP shipped its 30 millionth LaserJet printer.

In February 1999, HP introduced the LaserJet 2100 printer series – the world’s first personal laser printers in their class to offer high-quality 1200 x 1200-dpi resolution without significant performance loss.

In the network laser printer realm, the 5Si series was succeeded by the 8000, and later the 8100 and 8150. The 8000 brought 1200x1200-dpi resolution, which was continued in the 8100 and 8150. The 8100 and 8150 brought faster printing (32 pages per minute), but this speed was only realized for single-sided (simplex) printing; double-sided printing remained at 24 pages per minute. These models, which continued to use the Canon WX engine, continued the ability of providing excellent durability, combined with good maintainability.


In December 2000, HP celebrated the shipment of the 50 millionth LaserJet printer. [ [http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/abouthp/histnfacts/museum/imagingprinting/0018/index.html HP Virtual Museum: Hewlett-Packard LaserJet printer, 1984] ]

In September 2001, HP entered the low-end laser printer market with the introduction of the LaserJet 1000. It was the first sub-$250 LaserJet and the lowest priced monochrome HP LaserJet printer to date. Offered 10 ppm, HP Instant-on fuser, 600-dpi with HP REt boosting output effectively to 1200dpi, 2.5 cent cost per page, and 7,000-page monthly duty cycle.

In 2003, HP shipped its 75 millionth LaserJet printer.

In November 2003, HP entered the $24 billion copier market with the LaserJet 9055/9065/9085 MFPs, a copier-based line of high-volume multi-function printers.

In May 2004, HP celebrated the 20th anniversary of the original LaserJet and ThinkJet printers.

In May 2006 HP announced the 100 millionth LaserJet shipment. [ [http://h20271.www2.hp.com/SMB-AP/cache/380413-0-0-190-121.html HP – 100 Million HP LaserJets Shipped] ]

As of 2007, HP has several lines of monochrome (black and white) and color printers and multi-function products (copy, scan, and/or fax included) that range from 20-55 ppm and range in price from $149 to several thousands of dollars. In 2006, the 8150 was discontinued as was replaced by the 9000 series, which produced 50 pages per minute and used a duplexer of external design. Meanwhile, the 4100 was replaced by the 4200 (later 4250) and 4300 (later 4350), which brought speeds of up to 55 pages per minute. Various other models rounded out the HP line. Of all these models, only the 9000 brings excellent durability, maintainability, and high-volume throughput.

It should be kept in mind that the quoted duty cycles (per-month page volumes) are generally exaggerated by a factor of 10. The only current monochrome HP printer that can be expected to print over a million pages in its lifetime is the 9000 and its successor, the 9050. The only current HP Color LaserJet that could match this would be the 9500/9550. However, with the rise of electronic data storage (and improvements in data-storage reliability due to various technologies), printing of digital content appears to be slowly declining (after rising for many years). Many offices purchase lower-duty-cycle laser printers simply because they to be certain that they wear out before they become technologically obsolete.

Evolution of the LaserJet control panel

The 1992 LaserJet 4L marked the transition between a control panel evolved for an informed operator and one evolved for a casual user. The 4L's predecessor, the IIIP, had an array of buttons and a cryptic numerical LCD . The 4L was shipped with 4 LEDs, each with an icon to indicate a different condition, and a single pushbutton whose purpose varied depending on context (ie. *Hold down during printing, the printer will cancel the job. *Hold down when off, the printer will power up and print a test page including total number of pages printed. *A short press would provide a form feed or tell the printer to resume from a paper jam or out-of-paper condition. The actual application of the button is far more intuitive than any possible written description - basically, the button tells the printer "Whatever you're doing now, do the next most logical thing".). A 4L's four status LEDs will also light in unusual patterns to indicate service requirements; for example, a lit error light and a lit ready light would indicate a fuser problem (usually just needs to be reseated - most 4L problems can be resolved by simply disassembling the printer, cleaning it, then reassembling it). Interestingly, the 4L used early light pipes, with surface-mounted LEDs on the control board on the left side of the printer, and plastic channels to conduct light from the lit status LEDs to the top of the printer. To this day, professional-grade LaserJets retain more comprehensive displays.

Before the 4L, the control panel typically had buttons with names like Online, Menu, Shift, Continue, Reset, +, -, and Form Feed. This interface was loved only by engineers, since it also included seemingly conflicting status indicators like Online and Ready. A printer that is offline but ready does not print, though this is not immediately clear to new users. (As a consolation, even prior to Office Space, PC Load Letter was a commonly confusing error message mocked as a monument to poor user interface evolution and was commonplace on LaserJets prior to the 4L. "PC Load Letter" means, "Paper Cartridge - Load (insert) Letter (8.5"x11") paper" - for very minimal costs, the message could have probably alternated between "OUT OF LETTER / TOP CASSETTE" )

When a LaserJet is controlled by a Windows PC, the Form Feed button usually never does anything when pressed. It had a small indicator light, and was only used with very simple DOS programs that did not eject the last page after sending data to the printer. The Form Feed button would print whatever was remaining in memory and prepare the printer to accept any new data as if it were being typed at the top of a new blank sheet of paper.

Also, the Online button was actually a toggle switch, such that if the printer was already online, pressing Online makes the printer go offline and could be used to stop a runaway print job. Pressing Shift-Reset would then clear the remainder of the unwanted document from the printer's memory.

But by 1999 the PC was now firmly into the Windows 95 era and many of the original manual control buttons like Form Feed were no longer necessary, because the Windows 95 print-spooler subsystem offered even simple Windows applications a much greater control over the printer than was available to DOS applications, which had to each independently rebuild and re-engineer basic printer management systems from scratch. This new Windows-oriented interface was highly intuitive and obvious to the casual user, who needed little familiarization with the printer to use it effectively.

Raw, unformatted, text-only support still exists, but is hidden away in the professional LaserJet printers. Most professional LaserJet printers include a PCL menu where the number of copies, the font style, portrait or landscape printing, and the number of lines per page can be defined. These settings are ignored by graphical PCL/Postscript print drivers, and are only used for those rare situations where a LaserJet is used to emulate a lineprinter.

Key innovations

* Spring 1984 – First HP LaserJet
* Fall 1994 – First HP Color LaserJet
* Spring 1997 – First printer-based multifunction device
* Spring 2006 – World’s smallest footprint LaserJet

Industry firsts

* Spring 1984 – Personal laser printing
* March 1991 – Ethernet network printing
* April 1993 – Web Jetadmin
* November 2005 – Universal Print Driver


The model numbers do not necessarily have anything to do with the order of product development or the type of print-engine technology. For example, the LaserJet 1018 printer is newer, smaller, and more energy efficient than the LaserJet 4000. The 1018 also features USB while the older 4000 does not.

Black and white

* HP LaserJet Original Printer series
** HP LaserJet Printer (March 1984)
** HP LaserJet Plus Printer (November 1985)
** HP LaserJet 500 Plus Printer (March 1986)
* HP LaserJet II Printer series (March 1987)
** HP LaserJet IId Printer
** HP LaserJet IIp Plus Printer
** HP LaserJet IIp Printer
** HP LaserJet Series II Printer
* HP LaserJet III Printer series (March 1990)
** HP LaserJet III Printer
** HP LaserJet IIId Printer
** HP LaserJet IIIp Printer
** HP LaserJet IIIsi Printer (March 1991)
* HP LaserJet 4 Printer series
** HP LaserJet 4 Plus / m Plus Printer series
** HP LaserJet 4 (October 1992) / 4m Printer series
** HP LaserJet 4L / mL Printer series
** HP LaserJet 4p / mp Printer series
** HP LaserJet 4si Printer series
** HP LaserJet 4v / mv Printer series
* HP LaserJet 5 Printer series
** HP LaserJet 5 / m / n Printer series
** HP LaserJet 5 (April 1996)
** HP LaserJet 5L Printer series
** HP LaserJet 5p / mp Printer series
** HP LaserJet 5si Printer series
** HP LaserJet 6 Printer series
** HP LaserJet 6L Printer series
** HP LaserJet 6L Pro Printer
** HP LaserJet 6p/mp Printer series
* HP LaserJet 1000 Printer series
** HP LaserJet 1000 Printer
** HP LaserJet 1005 Printer
** HP LaserJet 1010 Printer series
** HP LaserJet 1012 Printer
** HP LaserJet 1015 Printer - HP Disaster
** HP LaserJet 1018 Printer
** HP LaserJet 1020 Printer series
** HP LaserJet 1022 Printer series
** HP LaserJet 1100 Printer series
** HP LaserJet 1150 Printer
** HP LaserJet 1160 Printer Series
** HP LaserJet 1200 Printer series
** HP LaserJet 1300 Printer series
** HP LaserJet 1320 Printer series
* HP LaserJet 2000 Printer series March 87
** HP LaserJet 2000 Printer series
** HP LaserJet 2100 Printer series (February 1999)
** HP LaserJet 2200 Printer series (2001)
** HP LaserJet 2300 Printer series
** HP LaserJet 2400 Printer series
* HP LaserJet 3000 Printer series
** HP LaserJet 3100 Printer series
** HP LaserJet 3200 Printer series
* HP LaserJet 4000 Printer series (1997)
** HP LaserJet 4000 Printer series
** HP LaserJet 4050 Printer series (1999)
** HP LaserJet 4100 Printer series (2001)
** HP LaserJet 4200 Printer series
** HP LaserJet 4240n Printer
** HP LaserJet 4250 Printer series
** HP LaserJet 4300 Printer series
** HP LaserJet 4350 Printer series
* HP LaserJet 5000 Printer series
** HP LaserJet 5000 Printer series
** HP LaserJet 5100 Printer series
** HP LaserJet 5200 Printer series
* HP LaserJet 8000 Printer series
** HP LaserJet 8000 Printer series
** HP LaserJet 8100 Printer series
** HP LaserJet 8150 Printer series
* HP LaserJet 9000 Printer series
** HP LaserJet 9000 Printer series
** HP LaserJet 9040 Printer series
** HP LaserJet 9050 Printer series
* HP LaserJet P2000 Printer series
** HP LaserJet P2015 Printer series
* HP LaserJet P3000 Printer series
* HP LaserJet P4010 Printer series
* HP LaserJet P4500 Printer series
* HP LaserJet Companion Printer


* HP Color LaserJet Original Printer series
** HP Color LaserJet (September 1994)
* HP Color LaserJet CP4000 Printer series
** HP Color LaserJet CP4005 Printer series
* HP Color LaserJet 5 Printer series
** HP Color LaserJet 5/5m Printer series
* HP Color LaserJet 1000 Printer series
** HP Color LaserJet 1500 Printer series
** HP Color LaserJet 1600 Printer
* HP Color LaserJet 2000 Printer series
** HP Color LaserJet 2500 Printer series
** HP Color LaserJet 2550 Printer series
** HP Color LaserJet 2600n Printer
** HP Color LaserJet 2605 Printer series
** HP Color LaserJet 2700 Printer series
* HP Color LaserJet 3000 Printer series
** HP Color LaserJet 3000 Printer series
** HP Color LaserJet 3500 Printer series
** HP Color LaserJet 3550 Printer series
** HP Color LaserJet 3600 Printer series
** HP Color LaserJet 3700 Printer series
** HP Color LaserJet 3800 Printer series
* HP Color LaserJet 4000 Printer series
** HP Color LaserJet 4500 Printer series
** HP Color LaserJet 4550 Printer series
** HP Color LaserJet 4600 Printer series
** HP Color LaserJet 4610n Printer
** HP Color LaserJet 4650 Printer series
** HP Color LaserJet 4700 Printer series
* HP Color LaserJet 5000 Printer series
** HP Color LaserJet 5500 Printer series
** HP Color LaserJet 5550 Printer series
* HP Color LaserJet 8000 Printer series
** HP Color LaserJet 8500 Printer series
** HP Color LaserJet 8550 Printer series
* HP Color LaserJet 9000 Printer series
** HP Color LaserJet 9500 Printer series(Source: [http://www.hp.com/ HP.com] )

Model suffixes

Printers with factory installed options have different model numbers to denote which options have been included and to differentiate a specific model from others in its series. These suffixes include:

* "D" for a duplexer, a device which enables fully automatic, hands-free double-sided printing.
* "T" for an additional paper tray (enables two different paper types to be kept available, or in certain models, to load paper while the printer is printing).
* "S" for a Paper Stacker, a device which increases the output bin capacity.
* "N" for built-in JetDirect (network) card
* "W" for built-in wireless network card
* "H" for a High-capacity (heavy-duty model, sometimes combined with M to indicate Heavy Media)
* "L" for a Light (only 1 paper tray)
* "P" for Postscript-capable (e.g. model with Postscript SIMM)
* "ph+" for Paper handling (eg. Stapler-stacker), or S/SL for stapler/stacker.
* "M" for MacintoshExample: A LaserJet 4000"DTN" would come with a duplexer and a built in JetDirect card, as well as an extra paper tray.

ee also

* Laser printer
* List of Hewlett-Packard products
* PC Load Letter


External links

* [http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/abouthp/histnfacts/museum/imagingprinting/0018/index.html HP Virtual museum: LaserJet printer]
* http://h20325.www2.hp.com/blogs/laserjet/
* [http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/newsroom/feature_stories/2004/printerstimeline.pdf Twenty Years of Innovation: HP LaserJet and Inkjet Printers 1984–2004]

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