Printer and Photocopier Troubleshooting and Repair Collection : Daisy wheel printer operation           
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Daisy wheel printer operation

These may still turn up at yard sales and flea markets but have virtually disappeared due to slow speed and limited flexibility with respect to graphics. In their defense, for basic text, their quality is superb for a low cost printer.

Instead of pins, these use a wheel with all the possible characters molded on 'leaves' around the perimeter. The wheel spins to the correct character position and a hammer than taps the leaf to impress the character (via a ribbon) on the paper. Carriage and printhead movement is similar to that of dot matrix printers.

(From: Peter (hedgieus@yahoo.com).)

Some history/trivia:

The daisy wheel printer (interestingly) was patented before World War II! It was GE or a GE engineer, but only commercialized by Diablo, which was later bought by Xerox in its expansion to California. Later spinoff was Qume, and then lot of companies got into it, some Japanese, some local (California). Daisy wheel technology was killed by the laser printer becoming cheap and having better quality. Original impetus for it was speed: IBM Selectric was able to print at 10 char/s (good for 110 baud modems!). It moved the whole ball (big inertia). Daisy wheel only moves one spoke, (to print one character) and got 30 chars/s.

Near the end of the era, 'on the fly' printers got as fast as 80 char/sec.