LaserWriter 12/640 PS LaserWriter 12/640 PS

Apple LaserWriter 12/640 PS Datasheet

In the fast-paced world of technology, where innovation knows no bounds, some devices stand the test of time, leaving an indelible mark on the industry. The Apple LaserWriter 12/640 PS, introduced on May 1, 1996, is one such legend that still echoes through the annals of printing history. Designed, manufactured, and sold by Apple, this printer quickly became a popular choice for those seeking top-quality printing capabilities.

The LaserWriter 12/640 PS came to the scene with a bang, boasting an impressive set of specifications that set it apart from the competition. Under the hood, it featured a 30 MHz AMD 29040 processor, 4 MB of ROM, and the remarkable ability to print in one color. With a printing resolution of up to 600 dpi and a swift printing speed of up to 12 pages per minute, this printer delivered fast and crystal-clear results.

What truly set the 12/640 PS apart was its ability to print at a resolution of 600 dpi from a Fuji Xerox P893 print engine. This engine could churn out 12 pages per minute or 8 pages per minute in an optional double-sided (duplex) mode. The printer utilized FinePrint and PhotoGrade to adjust individual dot sizes, simulating smoother edges and grays, giving it the appearance of a higher-resolution printers.

In the memory department, the LaserWriter 12/640 PS was unmatched among Apple printers. With support for up to 64 MB of RAM, it set a new standard, making it a formidable powerhouse in the printing world.

The 30 MHz AMD Am29040 processor worked its magic, rasterizing images from PostScript Level 2 or PCL 5 printer data. Data transmission was a breeze, whether through a LocalTalk network to its RS-422 serial port, a direct PC connection to its parallel port, or faster EtherTalk or IPX networking over a proprietary AAUI Ethernet port.

Beyond its hardware prowess, the LaserWriter 12/640 PS was designed with connectivity in mind. It offered multiple connection options, including LocalTalk, a Bi-Directional Parallel port, and an Ethernet connection. This versatility made it easy for users to connect and print from various devices, a feature way ahead of its time.

Not content with just being great, Apple upped the ante with the LaserWriter 12/640 PS Plus. Announced at COMDEX on November 18, 1996, and released the following month, this special configuration came with 12 MB of RAM, a duplex option, and an additional sheet feeder featuring a 500-page cassette. For those who demanded the best, upgrading the RAM to 24 MB enabled PhotoGrade printing in double-sided (duplex) mode.

Typography enthusiasts had reason to rejoice as well. The LaserWriter 12/640 PS included 35 PostScript Type 1 fonts and 15 PCL fonts in ROM. But that’s not all – an additional 64 fonts in PostScript and/or TrueType format were included on a CD-ROM bundled with the printer driver software.

28 years have passed since the LaserWriter 12/640 PS first hit the market, and it still remains a noteworthy addition to the Apple Printer series. Its high-quality specifications, user-friendly design, and innovative connectivity options make it a printer that truly stands the test of time.

The 12/640 PS marked one of the last monochrome laser printers from Apple, with the final model being the LaserWriter 8500 workgroup printer. Apple phased out support for printing over the old AppleTalk-based EtherTalk protocol in Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard). Printing over TCP/IP remained possible but required configuring an IPv4 address over Ethernet using specific utilities.

In a world where technology is in a constant state of flux, the Apple LaserWriter 12/640 PS is a testament to enduring quality and innovation. Its legacy lives on, a reminder that some devices are timeless classics in the world of printing.

LaserWriter 12/640 PS Details

Introduced May 1, 1996
November 18, 1996 (Plus)
Original PriceUnknown
Model NumberM4238
M5440 (Plus)
Order NumberUnknown
Weight26.5 Ibs.
12.020 KG
Dimensions9.25” H x 15.94” W x 16.65” D
23.5 cm H x 40.48 cm W x 42.3 cm D

Printer Specs

Pages Per Minute8 – Duplex
12 – Standard
LanguagePostScript Level 2


ProcessorAMD 29040
Processor Speed30 MHz
ROM Size4 MB
Maximum Memory64 MB
Memory Slots2 – 72-pin SIMMs
Minimum Speed70 ns


Bi-Directional Parallel


Maximum Continuous Power790 W

Further Reading and References

Disclaimer: The data presented in this article is under continuous development and has been manually collected from various sources based on their availability. The author of this article may revise this dataset as additional research is conducted and reviewed. Please note that the information is provided “as is” and “as available” without express or implied warranties. The author cannot be held responsible for any omissions, inaccuracies, or errors in the published information. Any warranties relating to this information are hereby disclaimed.

Last updated: September 16, 2023