Dot Matrix Printer

Dot matrix printers where released into the market in 1970 by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) who then launched their LA30 printer series.

The basis for the dot matrix printer technology is that tiny pins transfer ink through an ink ribbon upon the impact between the pin and the paper. The pins are normally aligned in a matrix (hence the name “Dot Matrix Printer”) containing 9 or 24 pins where the container of the pins is called the printhead.

An E could for example look like below on a 9 pin dot matrix printer, the more pins the printer got the higher the resolution.


The ink system of a dot matrix printer is based on printer ribbons compared to modern printers use of ink cartridges and toner cartridges. An explanation of the printing process in a dot matrix printer can be found in the printer ribbon section.

One of the major drawbacks with dot matrix printers is that they only could produce very basic graphics, printed comparatively slow, made quite some noise and only could produce few colors.

Their role is today largely overtaken by the high performing laser printers and inkjet printers. The one sector where they can still be found is within payment related terminals such as cash registers, point of sale equipment and ATM’s.

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