Screech screech screechhhh… The room buzzing with that so very typical sound of your relentlessly working Dot Matrix Printer dishing out pages after pages of print outs on those punched papers. Who can forget those sturdy robust machines that were a proud possession in our room – often an extension of your PC that not everyone could afford.
As is the aim of this series of The Lost Technology, we today go back into time, again in the late 80s and early 90s which undoubtedly was the start of the Tech Revolution in India, if we were to put it that way! Being in my school days with computers as an integral subject that we were taught, how could I miss the experience of the Dot Matrix. Our Computer Room had two of these machines attached to the computers which were reserved for the teachers or specifically meant for printing where we could take printouts of our work/programs/projects to submit before the term’s end.
I had bought my first computer back in the 90s – that being a PC 386, and not without a printer of course as the main purpose of purchasing the computer had been school project work and learning. I still remember that large bulky Dot Matrix which was in fact quite heavy to lift in itself! It had cost me a good 14,000/- rupees at that time – a whooping amount for sure! No wonder, not many used to purchase the printer and I had many of my friends come to my house in the last minute rush before an exam to take rushed print outs of project work at the nth hour! What cherished times they are!
Besides that loud screeching that announced to everyone around – “Hey, I am at work! And working hard!!” – one unmistakable characteristic that one remembers of a Dot Matrix is its punched paper. It used to be such an exercise fixing those holes of the paper correctly into the spikes of the printer and have it strapped ready for use. Long continuous bundles of paper feeding in to the printer and falling on the other side as they got written on.
The printing on close examination showed why these printers were called Dot Matrix. Each character of the text was actually a collection of small dots that created the formation of that character. In the same manner, all graphics were made out of small dots forming that image.
Dot Matrix Printers have had their own sets of pros and cons. The printing from these machines is very cost effective. More so, even today Dot Matrix are in fact the preferred choice for certain types of work such as receipt printings. No wonder, even today, their importance can not be played down, the only difference is that their use and pertinence has seen a change from what used to be personal (and in fact all sorts of) printing to commercial, office use and bulk printing needs.
Another aspect of the Dot Matrix days that I recall here today is the Banner Printing of those days. Does anyone recall the Printshop days when we used to print banners on those flowing bundles of paper!
To complete our ode to this endearing little piece of technology that used to be a prominent part of our lives in those good old days, we only hope that the Dot Matrix would continue to survive in this ever so pacy tech arena. They have undoubtedly fallen to the enervating effects of cheap and convenient inkjets and deskjet printers, but somehow have succeeded in sustaining themselves with great resilience. There surely is hope that they will continue to do so.