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The LASERWRITER is a laser printer with built-in PostScript interpreter introduced by Apple Computer in 1985. It was one of the first laser printers available to the mass market. In combination with WYSIWYG publishing software like PageMaker , that operated on top of the graphical user interface of Macintosh computers, the LaserWriter was a key component at the beginning of the desktop publishing revolution.

CONTENTS

* 1 History

* 1.1 Development of laser printing * 1.2 Apple\'s development * 1.3 Release

* 2 Description

* 2.1 Hardware * 2.2 Networking * 2.3 Design * 2.4 Legacy

* 3 Other LaserWriter
LaserWriter
models

* 3.1 LaserWriter
LaserWriter
II * 3.2 Beyond LaserWriter
LaserWriter
II

* 4 References * 5 External links

HISTORY

DEVELOPMENT OF LASER PRINTING

Main article: Laser printing
Laser printing

Laser printing
Laser printing
traces its history to efforts by Gary Starkweather
Gary Starkweather
at Xerox
Xerox
in 1969, which resulted in a commercial system called the Xerox 9700 . IBM
IBM
followed this with the IBM
IBM
3800 system in 1976. Both machines were large, room-filling devices handling the combined output of many users. During the mid-1970s, Canon started working on similar machines, and partnered with Hewlett-Packard
Hewlett-Packard
to produce 1980's HP 2680, which filled only part of a room. Other copier companies also started development of similar systems.

HP introduced their first desktop model with a Ricoh
Ricoh
engine for $12,800 in 1983. Sales of the non-networked product were unsurprisingly poor. In 1983 Canon introduced the LBP-CX, a desktop laser printer engine using a laser diode and featuring an output resolution of 300 dpi. In 1984, HP released the first commercially available system based on the LBP-CX, the HP LaserJet .

APPLE\'S DEVELOPMENT

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs
of Apple Computer had seen the LPB-CX while negotiating for supplies of 3.5" floppy disk drives for the upcoming Apple Macintosh computer. Meanwhile, John Warnock had left Xerox
Xerox
to found Adobe Systems
Adobe Systems
in order to commercialize PostScript
PostScript
and AppleTalk in a laser printer they intended to market. Jobs was aware of Warnock's efforts, and on his return to California he started working on convincing Warnock to allow Apple to license PostScript
PostScript
for a new printer that Apple would sell. Negotiations between Apple and Adobe over the use of Postscript began in 1983 and an agreement was reached in December 1983, one month before Macintosh was announced. Jobs eventually arranged for Apple to buy $2.5 million in Adobe stock.

At about the same time, Jonathan Seybold ( John W. Seybold 's son) introduced Paul Brainerd to Apple, where he learned of Apple's laser printer efforts and saw the potential for a new program using the Mac's GUI
GUI
to produce PostScript
PostScript
output for the new printer. Arranging his own funding through a venture capital firm, Brainerd formed Aldus and began development of what would become PageMaker . The VC coined the term "desktop publishing" during this time.

RELEASE

The LaserWriter
LaserWriter
was announced at Apple's annual shareholder meeting on January 23, 1985, the same day Aldus
Aldus
announced PageMaker. Shipments began in March 1985 at the retail price of US$6,995, significantly more than the HP model. However, the LaserWriter featured AppleTalk support that allowed the printer to be shared among as many as sixteen Macs, meaning that its per-user price could fall to under $450, far less expensive than HP's less-advanced model.

The combination of the LaserWriter, PostScript, PageMaker and the Mac's GUI
GUI
and built-in AppleTalk networking would ultimately transform the landscape of computer desktop publishing. At the time, Apple planned to release a suite of AppleTalk products as part of the Macintosh Office , with the LaserWriter
LaserWriter
being only the first component.

While competing printers and their associated control languages offered some of the capabilities of PostScript, they were limited in their ability to reproduce free-form layouts (as a desktop publishing application might produce), use outline fonts , or offer the level of detail and control over the page layout. HP's own LaserJet was driven by a simple page description language , known as Printer Command Language , or PCL. The version for the LaserJet, PCL4, was adapted from earlier inkjet printers with the addition of downloadable bitmapped fonts. It lacked the power and flexibility of PostScript until several upgrades provided some level of parity. It was some time before similar products became available on other platforms, by which time the Mac had ridden the desktop publishing market to success.

DESCRIPTION

HARDWARE

The LaserWriter
LaserWriter
used the same Canon CX printing engine as the HP LaserJet, and as a consequence early LaserWriters and LaserJets shared the same toner cartridges and paper trays. PostScript
PostScript
is a complete programming language that has to be run in a suitable interpreter and then sent to a software rasterizer program, all inside the printer. To support this, the LaserWriter
LaserWriter
featured a Motorola 68000
Motorola 68000
CPU running at 12 MHz , 512 kB of workspace RAM
RAM
, and a 1 MB frame buffer.

At introduction, the LaserWriter
LaserWriter
had the most processing power in Apple’s product line—more than the 8 MHz Macintosh. As a result, the LaserWriter
LaserWriter
was also one of Apple's most expensive offerings. For implementation purposes, the LaserWriter
LaserWriter
employed a small number of medium-scale-integration Monolithic Memories
Monolithic Memories
PALs , and no custom LSI , whereas the LaserJet employed a large number small-scale-integration Texas Instruments 74-Series gates, and one custom LSI. The LaserWriter was, thereby, in the same form factor (for its RIP ), able to provide much greater function, and, indeed, much greater performance, all within the very same LBP-CX form factor, although the external packaging was, for marketing purposes, somewhat different.

NETWORKING

Since the cost of a LaserWriter
LaserWriter
was several times that of a dot-matrix impact printer, some means to share the printer with several Macs was desired. LANs were complex and expensive, so Apple developed its own networking scheme, LocalTalk . Based on the AppleTalk protocol stack , LocalTalk connected the LaserWriter
LaserWriter
to the Mac over an RS-422
RS-422
serial port. At 230.4 kbit /s LocalTalk was slower than the Centronics PC parallel interface, but allowed several computers to share a single LaserWriter. PostScript
PostScript
enabled the LaserWriter
LaserWriter
to print complex pages containing high-resolution bitmap graphics , outline fonts , and vector illustrations. The LaserWriter could print more complex layouts than the HP Laserjet and other non-Postscript printers. Paired with the program Aldus
Aldus
PageMaker , the LaserWriter
LaserWriter
gave the layout editor an exact replica of the printed page. The LaserWriter
LaserWriter
offered a generally faithful proofing tool for preparing documents for quantity publication, and could print smaller quantities directly. The Mac platform quickly gained the favor of the emerging desktop-publishing industry, a market in which the Mac is still important.

DESIGN

The LaserWriter
LaserWriter
was the first major printer designed by Apple to use the new Snow White design language created by Frogdesign . It also continued a departure from the beige color that characterized the Apple and Macintosh products to that time by using the same brighter, creamy off-white color first introduced with the Apple IIc and Apple Scribe Printer 8 months earlier. In that regard it and its successors stood out among all of Apple’s Macintosh product offerings until 1987, when Apple adopted a unifying warm gray color they called Platinum across its entire product line, which was to last for over a decade.

The LaserWriter
LaserWriter
was also the first peripheral to use the LocalTalk connector and Apple’s unified round AppleTalk Connector Family, which allowed any variety of mechanical networking systems to be plugged into the ports on the computers or printers. A common solution was the 3rd party PhoneNet which used conventional telephone cables for networking.

LEGACY

Apple's RIP was of its own design, and was implemented using remarkably few ICs, including PALs for most combinatorial logic, with the subsystem timing, D RAM
RAM
refreshing, and rasterization functions being implemented in very few medium-scale-integration PALs. Apple's competitors (i.e., QMS , NEC
NEC
, and others) generally used a variation of one of Adobe's RIPs with their large quantity of small-scale-integration (i.e., Texas Instruments ' 7400 series) ICs.

In the same time-frame as Apple's LaserWriter, Adobe was licensing the very same version of PostScript
PostScript
to Apple's potential competitors (Apple's PostScript
PostScript
licensing terms were non-exclusive); however, all non-Apple licensees of PostScript
PostScript
generally employed one of Adobe's PostScript
PostScript
"reference models" (Atlas, Redstone, etc.) and even Linotype 's first image setter which featured PostScript
PostScript
employed such a "reference model" (but with customization for the Linotronic's different video interface, plus the necessary implementation of "banding" and a hard drive frame buffer and font storage mechanism). Indeed, the PostScript
PostScript
language itself was concurrently enhanced and extended to support these high-resolution "banding" devices (as contrasted to the lower resolution "framing" devices, such as the LaserWriter, in which the entire "frame" could be contained within the available RAM
RAM
).

In most cases, such RAM
RAM
was fixed in size and was soldered to the logic board. In late PostScript
PostScript
Level 1, and in early PostScript
PostScript
Level 2, the RAM
RAM
size was made variable and was generally extensible, through plug-in DIMMs, beyond the 2.0 to 2.5 MB minimum (0.5 to 1.0 MB for instructions, depending upon PostScript
PostScript
version, and 1.5 MB minimum for the "frame buffer", for the lowest resolution devices, 300 dpi), as more than 300 dpi of course required more RAM, and some LaserWriters were able to change between 300 dpi and 600 dpi, depending upon how much RAM
RAM
was installed. 600 dpi, for example, required 6 MB of RAM, but 8 MB of RAM
RAM
was more commonly found.

At this point, Apple's LaserWriters were employing generic non-parity RAM, whereas H-P's LaserJets, especially the ones which offered a plug-in PostScript
PostScript
interpreter card, required special parity-type RAM with a special "presence detect" function.

OTHER LASERWRITER MODELS

See also: Apple laser printer series

Building on the success of the original LaserWriter, Apple developed many further models. Later LaserWriters offered faster printing, higher resolutions , Ethernet
Ethernet
connectivity, and eventually color output in the Color LaserWriter . To compete, many other laser printer manufacturers licensed Adobe PostScript
PostScript
for inclusion into their own models. Eventually the standardization on Ethernet
Ethernet
for connectivity and the ubiquity of PostScript
PostScript
undermined the unique position of Apple’s printers: Macintosh computers functioned equally well with any Postscript printer. After the LaserWriter
LaserWriter
8500, Apple discontinued the LaserWriter
LaserWriter
product line in 1997 when Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs
returned to Apple.

LASERWRITER II

Apple LaserWriter
LaserWriter
II

In 1988, to address the need for both an affordable printer and a professional printer, the LaserWriter
LaserWriter
II was designed to allow for complete replacement of the computer circuit board that operates the printer. Across all the different models, the print engine was the same.

* For low-end users, there was the LaserWriter
LaserWriter
II SC, a host-based QuickDraw printer connected via SCSI that did not use PostScript
PostScript
and did not require a license from Adobe. It had two SCSI ports to allow daisy-chaining of the printer with other SCSI devices such as hard drives. It did not support AppleTalk. * For midrange users, the LaserWriter
LaserWriter
II NT provided PostScript support and AppleTalk networking. * For high-end users, the LaserWriter
LaserWriter
II NTX also included a SCSI controller for storage of printer fonts on a hard drive dedicated for use by the printer.

Three years later in 1991, two updated versions of the LaserWriter
LaserWriter
II were produced.

* The LaserWriter
LaserWriter
IIf had a faster processor than the IINTX, a newer version of PostScript
PostScript
and also HP PCL, and included the SCSI interface for font storage on an external hard drive * The LaserWriter
LaserWriter
IIg had the capabilities of the IIf, and was also the first LaserWriter
LaserWriter
with a built-in Ethernet
Ethernet
network interface. * By this time, most of the combinatorial logic which was formerly performed by PALs had been incorporated into a new LSI chip for greater flexibility, increased reliability and lower cost. This LSI, or a version of it, found its way into subsequent LaserWriters, and possibly even some competitive products, the first of which competitors may have been Hewlett-Packard
Hewlett-Packard
's ISA board which behaved as a parallel-attached PostScript
PostScript
interpreter, and which was connected outboard to a CX-based marking engine, such as a LaserJet, or, through an adapter board, to an SX-based marking engine, such as a LaserJet II. The emergence of ISA boards which supported LocalTalk made LaserWriters immediately connectable to PCs, and most probably undermined the success of H-P's inboard PostScript
PostScript
interpreter.

BEYOND LASERWRITER II

The aforementioned LaserWriter
LaserWriter
models were fixed at 300 dpi resolution.

With the availability of the 600 dpi-capable "marking engine" from Canon, LaserWriters were available in 300 dpi/600 dpi models, with the actual resolution being dependent upon how much RAM
RAM
was installed, and all RAM
RAM
was in user-installable DIMMs. On some models the frame-cache/font-cache could be buffered on a user-installable internal (2.5" SCSI) or external (3.5" or 5.25" SCSI) hard drive, although Apple itself did not provide the internal 2.5" SCSI drive option (except on the very rare Japanese-language version of the LaserWriter
LaserWriter
Pro 630; the Japanese-language version still retained the option for an external 3.5" or 5.25" SCSI drive).

REFERENCES

* ^ H. A. Tucker: Desktop Publishing. In: Maurice M. de Ruiter: Advances in Computer Graphics III. Springer, 1988, ISBN 3-540-18788-X , P. 296. * ^ Michael B. Spring: Electronic printing and publishing: the document processing revolution. CRC Press, 1991, ISBN 0-8247-8544-4 , Page 46. * ^ A B Benji Edwards: Apple\'s Five Most Important Printers. macworld.com, December 10, 2009. * ^ A B C Jim Hall, " HP LaserJet – The Early History" * ^ "Canon LBP-CX Engine". fixyourownprinter.com. Retrieved September 23, 2009. * ^ A B Pamela Pfiffner: Inside the Publishing Revolution. The Adobe Story. Adobe Press, 2003. ISBN 0-321-11564-3 . Chapter Steve Jobs and the LaserWriter. Pages 33-46. A PDF of the chapter is available at "Inside the Publishing Revolution". CreativePro.com. December 3, 2002. Retrieved September 23, 2009. * ^ David Wilma, "Brainerd, Paul (b. 1947)", HistoryLink, February 22, 2006 * ^ Jim Bartimo, Michael McCarthy: "Is Apple\'s LaserWriter
LaserWriter
on Target?", InfoWorld, Volume 7 Issue 6 (February 11, 1985), pp. 15-18. * ^ Aldus
Aldus
Announces Desktop Publishing System ... BusinessWire, January 23, 1985. * ^ Macintosh Timeline * ^ Owen W. Linzmayer. Apple Confidential 2.0. Books.google.com. ISBN 978-1-59327-010-0 . Retrieved September 23, 2009. Chapter Why 1984 Wasn't like 1984. Pages 143-146. * ^ "HP\'s History Of Printer Command Language (PCL)", HP * ^ Printerworks.com: Apple LaserWriter
LaserWriter
and LaserWriter
LaserWriter
Plus Printers * ^ "LaserWriter: Technical Specifications", Apple * ^ Apple Company News ;background:none transparent;border:none;-moz-box-shadow:none;-webkit-box-shadow:none;box-shadow:none;">v

* t * e

Apple printers

* SilenType * Dot Matrix * Color Plotter * Daisy Wheel * ImageWriter * StyleWriter * LaserWriter * Color LaserWriter

* v * t * e

Apple hardware before 1998

COMPUTERS

APPLE

* Apple I
Apple I

* Apple II series

* II * II Plus * IIe * IIc * IIc Plus * IIGS

* Apple III

COMPACT MACINTOSH

* 128K * 512K * 512Ke * Plus * SE * SE/30 * Classic * Classic II * Color Classic

MACINTOSH II

* II * IIx * IIcx * IIci * IIfx * IIsi * IIvi * IIvx

MACINTOSH LC

* Macintosh LC
Macintosh LC
* LC 500 series * Macintosh TV

MACINTOSH QUADRA

* 700 * 900 * 950 * 800 * 840AV

* 600 series

* 610 * 650 * 660AV * 605 * 630

POWERBOOK

* Macintosh Portable
Macintosh Portable

* 68k-based PowerBooks

* 100 series

* 100 * 140 * 170 * 160 * 180 * 150 * 190

* 200 series

* 210 * 230

* 500 series

* PowerPC
PowerPC
-based PowerBooks

* 2300c * 5300 * 1400 * 3400c * 2400c

POWER MACINTOSH

* 6000 series

* 6100 * 6200 and 6300 * 6400 and 6500

* 7000 series

* 7100 * 7200 and 8200 * 7220 * 7300 * 7500 * 7600

* 8000 series

* 8100 * 8500 * 8600

* 5000 series

* 9000 series

* 9500 * 9600

* Power Macintosh
Power Macintosh
G3

MISCELLANEOUS

* Apple Lisa
Apple Lisa
* Macintosh XL
Macintosh XL
* Macintosh Performa
Macintosh Performa
* Macintosh Centris
Macintosh Centris
* Apple IIe
Apple IIe
Card (Macintosh PDS)

* Apple Workgroup Server

* 9150

* Apple Network Server * Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh
Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh

PERIPHERALS

DISPLAYS

* Monitor III * Monitor II * AppleColor Composite IIe * AppleColor High-Resolution RGB * Macintosh Color * AudioVision 14 * Multiple Scan 14 * ColorSync 750

EXTERNAL DRIVES

* Disk II * Macintosh * Pro File
File
* Hard Disk 20 * Hard Disk 20SC * AppleCD * PowerCD * Tape Drive 40SC

INPUT DEVICES

* Keyboard * Desktop Bus * Extended Keyboard * Adjustable Keyboard * Mouse * Scanner * QuickTake

NETWORKING

* Apple II
Apple II
serial cards * Apple Modem * LocalTalk * Apple Communication slot * GeoPort

PRINTERS

* Silentype * Dot Matrix Printer * Letter Quality Printer * ImageWriter * LaserWriter * 410 Color Plotter * Color LaserWriter * StyleWriter

NEWTON

* MessagePad * eMate 300

OTHER

* Paladin * PowerCD * Interactive Television Box * Pippin

Apple hardware since 1998

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LaserWriter
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