Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Gary Starkweather: The Man Behind the Laser Printer

Fast, precise, and inkless. That’s what best describes laser printers. According to Wikipedia, a laser printer is a computer peripheral that that rapidly produces high quality text and graphics on plain paper. It makes use of a xerographic printing process, which is a dry copying technique that makes use of electrostatic charges.

The mad behind laser printers is Gary Starkweather. A graduate of B.S. Physics from Michigan State University and M.S. in Optics from the University of Rochester, Starkweather first thought of creating the laser printer when he was working as a researcher in Xerox’s Webster Research Center. But his idea received opposition from Xerox management. He was told that his project will not have any practical use or would never make it to the market.

But Starkweather is a stubborn man. He knows he has an important machine waiting to be completed, so he persisted and not long after he completed his first prototype in 1969. Two years later, with blessing from Xerox, he had his first working laser printer. With help from Butler Lampson and Ronald Rider, the digital control system and character generator of his printer were created.

In 1977, the group was able to develop the first commercial laser printer called Xerox 9700. Soon after, Starweather shifted his research to personal laser printers. Again, this met opposition from Xerox. As such, Hewlett-Packard beat Xerox in offering the first personal laser printer in 1980.

After 24 years with Xerox, Starweather left the company and joined Apple Computer. After 10 years with Apple Computer, he joined Microsoft Research. In 2004, he was elected to the US National Academy of Engineering

1 comment:

  1. He is such a great person. I understand his shifts in companies. Xerox actually didn't give its researchers to have time for their personal research unlike, for example, Google which implements 20% Time for employees to work on their individual, independent researches.