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Printer - Apple LaserWriter, 1987 Object Reg. No: HT 13415

Apple LaserWriter printer incorporating built-in Adobe PostScript software, and cord and manual.

The Apple LaserWriter was the first laser printer available to the mass market.

The Apple LaserWriter (released March 1985) with its built-in Adobe PostScript page description software was a key element in the arrival of what came to be known as the desktop publishing (DTP) revolution that changed the publishing industry.

The other key elements were:
1. The networkable Macintosh Plus (released January 1986) which showed on screen what would be printed ('What You See Is What You Get'), commonly with an external floppy disk drive providing additional data storage until hard drives became affordable; and
2. The first desktop publishing program, Aldus PageMaker (released July 1985 by Aldus Corporation), which allowed text and graphics to be readily combined in columns.

The Apple LaserWriter with built-in Adobe PostScript page description software could manage the accurate scaling of fonts and graphics, a feature not available to other printers of the day, and print with a quality approaching that achieved by a contemporary printing press. This combination of software and hardware allowed to be done in minutes what it once took hours to accomplish with traditional typesetting, layout and pasteup methods. Reports, essays, brochures, newsletters and all manner of other printed works could now be produced on the desktop with combined text and graphics.

Although the cost of the Apple LaserWriter was high, the networkability of the Macintosh Plus using the AppleTalk protocol over a LocalTalk network meant that one LaserWriter could service multiple computers and the printer cost could be rationalised over multiple computers.

The Apple LaserWriter was, in fact, Apple's 'computer' of greatest capacity at that time. The significance of this was that the printer could process printing jobs while the user kept on using their computer.

This particular machine was used in a business enterprise.

During the mid-1980s, the donor was heavily involved in producing computer user documentation for computer systems developed in-house by various Victorian Government Departments. Prior to acquiring a LaserWriter/Macintosh/PageMaker combination, the donor used computers with no graphics and green text on black screens. He also used large belt feed printers and IBM Selectric typewriters. He recalls that Roneo machines may have featured as well. He says that, with the Desktop Publishing 'revolution' around 1986, there was access to fonts, graphics, illustrations and charts, which meant that high quality manuals could be produced, which were at least half the size and twice as comprehensive as previously.

This item is part of a representative collection of hardware, software, trade literature and promotional material that documents the history of the Apple company, and its contribution to, and impact on the computer industry and society.
Printer with manual and 2 power leads.
Statement Of Significance:
The Apple LaserWriter was the first laser printer available to the mass market. The Apple LaserWriter with its built-in Adobe Postscript page description software was one of the key elements in the desktop publishing (DTP) revolution.
Acquisition Information:
Donation from Tim McLaughlan, 2006
Discipline: Technology
Dimension Comment: See parts records for dimesions

More information

Tagged with: computer peripherals, computer printers, computers, computing, hard copies, lasers, output device, printing equipment, making history - apple computer collection
Themes this item is part of: The Apple LaserWriter, Internet Macintosh User Group (iMug) Collection, The Apple Computer Story - Desktop Publishing 1985-1991, The Apple Computer Story - Imaging 1987-1994, Information & Communication Collection
Primary Classification: COMPUTING & CALCULATING
Secondary Classification: Digital Computing
Tertiary Classification: printers
Manufacturer: Apple Computer Inc, Cupertino, California, United States of America, 1987

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