LaserJet Classic

Laser Selection:

Name: LaserJet
Product Number: 2686A
Introduced: 1984
Division: Boise
Ad: Click to see, Click to see
Original Price: $3495
Catalog Reference: 1985, page 95
Donated by: Tim Conolly, Glaxo Wellcome.


After failing with the Ricoh engine 2687/88 laser printers, HP returned to Canon for its third-generation laser printer. Codenamed "Sprout", this printer was the first to carry the LaserJet name.

The original LaserJet was one of HP's most significant product introductions ever. It marked the beginning of a massive new market that HP would dominate and profit from handsomely. The LaserJet solved almost all user printing issues at the same time. It was fast (eight pages per minute) and produced outstanding print quality at 300 dots per inch. It printed on cut sheet paper, so users no longer had to unroll and cut thermal rolls or peel perforations from impact dot matrix fanfold paper. It was very quiet (<55dBA), a significant improvement over the impact printers that dominated the printing market at the time.

One of the most significant technology breakthroughs offered by the original LaserJet (Canon CX engine) was the use of an all-in-one toner cartridge. Instead of replacing toner and quick-wearing parts (drum, cleaning system, etc) separately, users would just purchase a new all-in-one cartridge.

The original LaserJet took only a year to develop. Almost 250,000 units were sold in the LaserJet's first year on the market.

The LaserJet was reasonably priced and very reliable. It was no wonder that sales far exceeded expectations. The LaserJet did have some limitations. It was only available in an RS-232-C interface (neither HP-IB nor Centronics were available). It also could only print full-resolution (300 dpi) graphics on one eighth of a page; its 128K memory was not upgradable. The LaserJet print engine came from Canon.

The LaserJet Plus was introduced in November of 1985. It looked exactly like the LaserJet, but came with 512K memory and also offered an optional Centronics interface connection. The LaserJet Plus was the fist HP printer to speak the PCL 4 language. The additional memory enabled the new printer to print full-page graphics at 150 dpi. The LaserJet Plus was priced at $3995. It had the same part number (2686A) as the original LaserJet and required special ordering options (200, 210, 300). The original LaserJet used HP's PCL4 language.

The LaserJet 500 (2686D) Plus was introduced in April of 1986 and priced at $4,995. The LaserJet 500 Plus came with two input trays (of 250 sheets each) and face-down (correct) output.

Click here to see the original LaserJet featured on the Silicon Valley TV program "Computer Chronicles" in 1985. (2 minutes 24 seconds, 11 MB).

Click here to see the LaserJet featured in a desktop publishing article on the Silicon Valley TV program "Computer Chronicles" in 1987. (22 seconds, 3.7 MB).

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