July 25, 2024

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How HP’s first ThinkJet printer brought office printing to the masses 40 years ago

The concept of inkjet printing was a fixture throughout the 20th century – with research starting way back in the 50s with a Japanese Canon employee, Ichiro Endo, who proposed the idea for a “bubble jet” printer that could translate the images you see on a computer to a printed physical page. But it wasn’t until HP’s ThinkJet printer launched in 1984 that inkjet printing truly entered the mainstream – and with it the dreaded ink cartridge. 

One of the first commercial inkjet printers was the IBM 6640, a device designed to offer printing to offices, when it was launched in 1976. It was part of a handful of bulky, heavy and impractical devices that launched around this time – and offered inkjet printing in professional contexts.