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In the ever-evolving world of technology, certain devices stand out for their groundbreaking features and lasting impact. One such gem is the Apple LaserWriter 8500, a printer introduced in 1997 that, despite its brief two-year existence, left an indelible mark on the printing landscape.
On August 5, 1997, Apple introduced the LaserWriter 8500 to the world. Manufactured and sold for just two years, the printer ceased production on January 5, 1999. Today, 26 years later, the LaserWriter 8500 is a nostalgic relic, but its influence echoes through the annals of printing history.
For its time, the LaserWriter 8500 boasted cutting-edge features that set it apart. Driven by a powerful 60 MHz AMD 29040 processor and equipped with 8 MB of ROM, this printer could handle monochromatic printing with finesse.
The LaserWriter 8500 utilized a Fuji Xerox P880 print engine, enabling it to produce sharp prints at 600 dpi. With a capacity to output 20 pages per minute, it was a formidable choice for its time. The printer also supported double-sided printing at 8 pages per minute, requiring a duplexing attachment. Its versatility extended to paper handling, accommodating sizes up to 13 x 20 inches and holding up to 500 sheets in its paper cassette. An optional sheet feeder attachment could further expand capacity by an additional 500 pages.
At its core, the LaserWriter 8500 featured the 60 MHz AMD Am29040 processor, capable of rasterizing images from PostScript Level 3 or PCL 5 printer data. Its connectivity options were diverse, allowing data transmission through LocalTalk, RS-422 serial port, parallel port for direct PC connection, and support for faster networking protocols such as EtherTalk, IPX, NetBIOS, NDS, and SNMP over 10BASE-T or a proprietary AAUI Ethernet port. A SCSI port offered the ability to attach an external drive for additional font storage.
With an impressive array of included fonts, the LaserWriter 8500 provided users with a typographic palette to enhance their printing experience. From classics like Times New Roman to avant-garde choices like Wingdongs, the printer’s font library was a testament to Apple’s attention to detail and commitment to diverse design needs.
What set the LaserWriter 8500 apart was its versatility. Featuring LocalTalk, a Bi-Directional Parallel port, and an Ethernet connection, it catered to a spectrum of users requiring reliability and speed. While the starting price of $3,099 might have seemed steep, the investment was justified for those in pursuit of a high-quality printer that delivered on both performance and adaptability.
With the advancement of technology, Apple phased out support for the old AppleTalk-based EtherTalk protocol in Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard). However, the LaserWriter 8500 could still print over TCP/IP with some configuration tweaks, showcasing its adaptability even in the face of evolving technological landscapes.
Though the LaserWriter 8500 may be a distant memory for many, its legacy lives on. This pioneering printer paved the way for the development of more advanced models, influencing the trajectory of the printing industry. It remains an essential piece of printing history, a testament to Apple’s innovation, and a reminder that even short-lived technologies can leave an enduring impact.
As we reflect on the 26-year journey of the Apple LaserWriter 8500, it’s clear that this printer was more than just a device; it was a symbol of innovation and design excellence. Its remarkable specifications, diverse font offerings, and adaptability to changing technologies make it a beacon in the history of printing. The LaserWriter 8500 may no longer be in production, but its influence resonates in every modern printer, serving as a foundation for the technological marvels we use today.
LaserWriter 8500 Details
|August 5, 1997
|January 5, 1999
|16.2” H x 23.2” W x 17.9” D
41.14 cm H x 58.92 cm W x 45.46 cm D
|Pages Per Minute
|PostScript Level 3
|1 – 72-pin SIMM
|Maximum Continuous Power
Further Reading and References
- LaserWriter 8500: Technical Specifications – Apple Support
- LaserWriter 8500 – Low End Mac
- LaserWriter – Wikipedia
- LaserWriter 8500 – IT History Society
- LaserWriter 8500 Service Source (PDF) – Apple Repair Manuals
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: December 10, 2023