Inkjet Selection:

Name: PaintJet
Product Number: 3630A
Introduced: 1987
Division: San Diego
Ad: Click to see, Click to see
Original Price: $1395
Catalog Reference: 1988, page 714
Donated by: Bob Dey, HP (Original PaintJet Product Manager).


Code named "Squirt", the PaintJet was HP's first colour printer. The PaintJet had many limitations: it required special paper, its print cartridges required "priming and wiping" (with a pump and brush supplied with the product), its paper advance mechanism required a special size paper, in many regions it could not produce acceptable transparencies because of its limited operating humidity range (+20% to +50% RH). The PaintJet also had many strengths. It was fast with good print quality (180dpi). Unlike pen plotters, the PaintJet could print both text and colour graphics quickly on the same page. It printed transparencies using the same print cartridges used to print paper output. For the first time, the PaintJet offered users the ability to quickly and cheaply print high quality raster images. It would be another four years before HP produced a printer capable of higher quality colour output.

The color print kit for connecting PaintJet printers to Apple Macintosh computers (17305A) was introduced in 1989. This kit worked with the serial interface version of the PaintJet. In February of 1991, the integrated version of the PaintJet and Macintosh interface was named the PaintWriter (C1662A) and priced at $1,395.

Software for the PaintJet can be found here.

Collector’s Notes:

Like the other early HP inkjet printers, the PaintJet was very robust. Four of the five units at the museum are in working order. HP stopped selling replacement print cartridges for the PaintJet and PaintJet XL in the late 1990s. These were the first two inkjet printers for which HP discontinued printhead manufacturing. PaintJet printheads are probably refillable; we have not yet attempted this at the museum.

PaintJets will print on normal fanfold computer printer paper, but print quality is much better on HP's special PaintJet paper (which is also no longer available).


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