Printing has been an important part of the development of the human race that has allowed the spreading of ideas and theories. It was especially important during the seventeenth century where religious reformers regularly printed material that was viewed by authorities as illegal and in some cases treasonous. This was the first time when people had the power to print their ideas even though the printing press was still a rarity in the early modern world. Today the situation is wholly different with the development of the home computer and subsequently home printers and ink cartridges. The spread of these devices however holds almost as much importance as the original printing press, as does the evolution of ink cartridges.
The inkjet printer and subsequently ink cartridges were introduced in 1984, meaning that people now had the power of a printing press in their own homes. This introduction created a convenient and reliable method of putting ideas on paper that previously was simply not possible. Before ink cartridges however there were the considerably messier ribbons and toner cartridges.
The reason the medium of delivering ink changed was a response to developments in printer technology. Those of a reasonable age will remember the old dot matrix printers that utilised a ribbon to place the image upon the paper. These printers however had serious limitations, not least the poor graphical quality, although the laborious task of changing the ribbon was also a major problem. The dot matrix printer however was soon surpassed by the inkjet variety, and by the time the nineties had rolled around, these were the predominant form of printers in offices and homes.
The benefits of the inkjet system were that it could deliver high quality images in both black and white as well as colour. In addition, rather than having a ream of continuous paper entering the printer, the inkjet variety could print on a large variety of paper sizes and materials. The largest benefit however was the ease of changing the cartridges. Today every type of inkjet printer has a specific cartridge that is inserted through a simple snap and shut technique; this meant that even the biggest technological novice is able to change the cartridge once it has been spent.
In the early years this meant that cartridges were solely produced by the printer manufacturers meaning they had a practical monopoly over prices. This however rapidly changed as the more common varieties of cartridges were produced by companies and sold for considerably less cost. Today the recycling of a spent ink cartridge is actively encouraged and there are large numbers of companies out there who are happy to take old cartridges and then refill them, making the price of the refills much more affordable.
The production of high quality printing has been instrumental in not only giving the mass public a means of spreading literature and ideas but also enabling many people to print their own photographs, reducing the costs of development. The printing of photographs however cannot be purely attributed to advances in printing technology but also the widespread use of the digital camera rather than its film predecessor. Whatever the reasons it is now cheaper than ever to put together a photo album and other documentation.
As previously stated printing has played an important role in the advancement of society and culture. This is not only true for the printing press that allowed for radical ideas to be spread but equally applies to the evolution of the modern home printer. Without it the world would simply not be the same and the flow of ideas would be heavily restricted.
Expert in cultural affairs and technology Thomas Pretty the advancement of printing technology and how ink cartridges have played their own part in changing the way ideas are communicated and spread.