Inkjet Printer: Endo invents a new printing method
Most useful technologies take time to mature; usually there are at least a couple of years between an idea’s conception and a final working model. When it comes to inkjet printing, however, it took much longer-the patent for directing ink onto paper using electrostatic forces was granted to Lord Kelvin in 1867.
Before the 1980s, printing from a computer was a slow, unrewarding task. The mechanisms behind those early printers used moving parts, pumps and bladders that made them expensive, clumsy and inefficient. The modern inkjet was to change all this by using heat or electrostatic forces to produce uniform droplets and precision results. In japan in the 19701s, Canon and Hewlett-Packard were competing with each other to produce the first reliable inkjet printer.
Hewlett-Packard was beaten by a Canon researcher named Ichiro Endo who invented the first thermal inkjet printer in 1977. He was inspired when he saw a syringe full of ink accidentally being touched with a hot soldering iron. The heat caused the ink to increase in volume and spurt out. Endo realized this was the solution to delivering controlled spurts of ink and within days he produced a working model that later became the Canon Bubble jet printer.
Both Hewlett-Packard and Canon put in patents within months of each other and although there is much discussion about who invented what first, the two companies ended other. The winner, with high quality cheaply produced printers available to all, was the home consumer.