My brief history of printers

I have a problem with printers. Sometimes. Namely the 4-in-1 machine we have at home, which I will shamefully label as the HP PSC 950. Being a 4-in-1 machine, it doesn’t just print documents. It photocopies, scans and serves as a fax machine as well. In case you feel inclined to ask, yes, my parents occasionally use the fax machine feature from time to time.

We have had this machine for well over half a decade. I remember because I was using it in late high school. The ink is very expensive. We used to get exasperated when it ran out because it would cost a heck of a lot to refill.

When I first used a printer, I had an old computer with Windows 95. It was the year 2001, and I had an assignment about dogs. It was one of my first assignments I had where we had the option to type it instead of handwrite it. I chose to type it.

My mum had worked for ComputerLand for quite some time, and for quite some time we had terrific, up-to-date computers and printers. However, in 2001, technology was moving fast, and we didn’t have colour.

We had a laser printer that only printed in black and white.

All my friends had colour inkjet printers and I was a bit jealous that I couldn’t print in colour. I ended up drawing a lot of doodles and colouring them in, to make my work look pretty, instead of using WordArt and ClipArt that became common around that time.

Since then I have discovered that I really hate inkjet printers.

So I didn’t believe my mum when she said our printer was expensive and of very high quality. I just wanted to have a colour printer, so I wouldn’t have to keep prettifying my work by hand. What also deterred me from our printer was that it didn’t print well, probably because it needed maintenance work done, or because it was getting old by that time. The problem was that for some reason, no matter how my pages looked on the screen, the printer would magically put half-pages of whitespace between my paragraphs. I would have eighteen pages, nice and neat, but it would wind up being about twenty-two pages long with some empty half-pages.

I had to fill in the whitespace by gluing in photos of dogs or drawing them. It seemed weird that between the text, there was suddenly a picture where a picture wasn’t relevant.

When I did finally get a colour printer, I hated it. It printed in streaks, the ink ran out quickly, and it liked to swallow wads of paper instead of just one sheet at a time.

Anyway, our next was this HP PSC 950, which I thought was fantastic because I could finally scan photos.

I stopped printing borders by the time we got it, because I decided that page borders were silly and unnecessary, and keeping things simple was the way to go. Brandon was still in early high school, so he still wanted to decorate his pages on-screen and use page borders. It was around this time, that he started doing more assignments, and noticing that his page borders were always cut off at the bottom, no matter how many margins he fixed.

After poking around in Microsoft Word for a while, he intelligently found that changing the page size allowed the border to “fit” (instead of the computer coming up with a warning that borders were “outside the printable area of the page”) and therefore print nicely on the page. Instead of sticking with the default, standard, and correct size of A4, he changed that size so the height was a centimetre smaller, and that did the trick.

He soon fell into the I’m-hipster-and-I-shall-also-keep-things-simple phase, and stopped using page borders. It was about two years ago. He no longer needed to worry about fiddling with the settings. Without a border, pages would print normally.

My mum wanted to print something the other night. It had a page border. Ricky had trouble printing it and I went to the printer to help him out. It turns out the bottom border was getting cut off. Because I hadn’t encountered this problem since 2008 or so, when Brandon first encountered it, I forgot that this was actually an issue we previously resolved. So of course I found it a bit amusing when I realised that this was the problem that irked us for a while, all those years back.

We fixed that problem and that was that. The only problem we haven’t fixed is that even when the ink is full, sometimes the machine keeps reporting that it’s not, and it sometimes refuses to print a document when it hasn’t even tried swallowing up a piece of paper yet. It seems that printing documents as “draft” or on the fastest speed doesn’t get it stuck.

But I don’t think it’s worth the time to fix, and we just work around the solutions. The fact that we print things only three times a year makes it unnecessary to really perform maintenance on the machine, and most things are going digital, so I suppose our poor HP PSC 950 is the last printer I’ll ever use.

I’m curious to hear your printer rants and rambles, so feel free to share! I feel like my post got a bit too sentimental. Hahah.

Comments on this post

My department at school actually doesn’t have a color printer! Doesn’t inhibit us too much; it just makes us go to the library if we want to print in color. As far as I can tell, printers that only print black and white are extremely common in the US.

And… I’m sure that your doodles were infinitely more tasteful, creative, and unique than anything that I could have found in Microsoft ClipArt back in those days!

I never liked the home printer — the inkjet printers always got smeared when I touched the paper. That’s why I like laser printer, so I’m glad I have access to those at work, especially the coloured one!

When my dad first got us one of those all-in-one printers, I was in high school, and I was ecstatic because I could finally use the scanner! I’d been asking for one for a while, but Dad never got one, but instead he got the all-in-one :) I enjoyed using the scanner for a while! it was quite useful.

And I would have loved seeing your doodles. They sound adorable and more creative than trying to use clipart!

Strangely readin this post while having trouble with my own printer! It’s refusing to print anything out at all, it says I need to read the maintenance guide. I don’t even think I have a maintenance guide – oh dear.

Printers are so annoying when you need them most. Mine seems to break whenever I’m in a rush to get something done – I’ve ended up spending hours attempting to print something before, which is such a waste of time.

I think it’s great that you used to draw your own pictures to go with the text, a lot more creative than relying on ClipArt. I don’t think enough people do things by hand now because of printing, and it’s a bit sad really.

Hope your printer manages to overcome its problems! (I doubt it ever will, printers have some severely damaged emotions or just hate their job haha).

I actually don’t really remember all my experiences with printers. We never really got a good one at home and so I would always use the ones at school as they were much better and mum would have already donated the suggested amount so us students could use the printers freely :D

I never knew how to solve that printer border problem! I ended up just drawing a rectangle and then adding a border to that usually . I still remember the clip art days. Being a Graphic Designer, I shudder at the thought I used them back in the day ahahaha.

I actually don’t remember all my experiences with printers. We didn’t have colour printers because the replacement ink would be too expensive. I think it was 4-5 years ago when we finally got a HP laserjet printer.

During high school, while the library charges 10 cents for every additional page after the first two pages, I would print my homework and some scholarly articles in the business education room because it was free and my teachers didn’t really care xD I also used it way more than my home printer because it can print double sides! (: There were some occasions where I would try to sneak in 2+ pages documents to print in the library xD
But now that I am in university, I would reduce the page size to 2 pages on 1 document and manually print it double sides to reduce the paper needed.

Sadly, I don’t have any printer stories. I’ve only really had experience with laser printers, and I’ve not really used the one I have at home very much – it needs ink. It’s suppose to be able to print up to 13″x19″ pages, but printing is all that it does. :( I’m needing a 4-in-1 as my handheld scanner decided not to be compatible with Windows 7. GR! Nevertheless, I’m glad that you got the printer problem straightened out for your Mom.