Four Reasons the LaserWriter Mattered

April 27th, 2010 by Benj Edwards

Five Reasons the Apple LaserWriter Mattered

Twenty-five years ago this spring, Apple released the LaserWriter, its first laser printer. Few today remember that Apple’s hefty printing machine had as much of an impact on the way the world uses computers as the Macintosh itself. In conjunction with Apple’s famous PC, the LaserWriter pushed the personal computer into the worlds of graphic design and publishing.

So begins my latest piece over at, which examines four reasons why we should care about the historical legacy of Apple’s first laser printer. It also touches on the early Apple-Adobe relationship, which began with the LaserWriter. That relationship has come under closer scrutiny recently thanks to the nasty iPhone-iPad /Adobe Flash feud.

If you’re interested in more Apple printer information, check out this article I did for Macworld last year. It lists “Apple’s Five Most Important Printers.” Supposedly.

2 Responses to “Four Reasons the LaserWriter Mattered”

  1. Donn Says:

    I am still using a Personal LaserWriter 320, networked with an AsanteTalk box, to do bulk B&W printing. Slow, but steady, and still going on an ancient toner cartridge!

  2. Alan Says:

    One funny thing about it was that, at the time of release, the LaserWriter was the most powerful computer sold by Apple: it has more CPU horsepower than the Macs at that date. Postscript was significant, as you note, in making an efficient connection to the printer, but it needed a powerful interpreter in the printer, and Apple built a good one.

    I was running a LaserWriter Pro 630 until recently, still printing crisp and clean. The 630 is a cool model with LocalTalk, EtherTalk, and parallel ports, and can do both Postscript and PCL. The parallel port was slow, so I drove it over Ethertalk from Netatalk on Linux.

    I finally replaced recently it with a LaserJet 4plus with a duplexer. I’ve wanted two-sided printing for a long time. Like the laserwriters, the old laserjets were built to last. I wish I could find a color printer as sturdy and economical as an old laser printer.

    – Alan

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