The Story of the Xerox 9700 Electronic Printing System
The Xerox 9700 Electronic Printing System is a 300dpi duplex Xerographic (Laser) printer operating at 2 pages per second (120 cut sheets per minute in simplex mode) with raster font selection and forms capabilities. It as introduced in 1977 and for many years was the premier high volume page printer.
Your DigiBarn curator (thats me, Bruce Damer), has a personal history with the 9700. I worked for Elixir Technologies Corporation from 1987 through 1994 and while there wrote some of the first software to use a visual interface (GUI), mouse and high resolution displays on PCs to create resources (forms, fonts, graphics and jobs) for the 9700. More on this at the DigiBarn's pages on the Elixir Story.
We will now feature some original writing on the 9700 by people who helped make it the success it became, as well as excerpts from others involved in the birth of the 9700 and laser printing in general.
Guide to the DigiBarn's telling of the Xerox 9700 story:
Our thanks to COPI - Computer Output Print & Internet, a Houston-based service bureau and the world's first reseller of used Xerox printers including the 9700 for supporting this project to tell the 9700 story.
Know anything more about the Xerox 9700? Contact Us!
From Bryn Mosher (May 2006)
You requested information on the Xerox 9700 series and 4050 printers. I worked as a mainframe operator with both a 9790 and a 4050 in the mid 90's at CalFarm Insurance. I only worked with the machines for a couple of years, but had a close relationship with the 9790 (the most reliable printer I've ever met since it was before the days of plastic parts). When we retired our 9790 for a 4635, I wrote an article for our company newsletter about the printer and it's history. The article is long gone, but I still have a text document with the research I found on the Xerox website back in the 90's. There's stuff on the 4050, 4635 and 9700 series here. I tried to submit the full text, but your for only accepts 5000 characters, so if you want the rest drop me an email. Here's the 9790 info for now. If I ever find the article or any pictures of our old computer room, I'll hand them over too. FYI: Our 9790 became parts for the remiaining 200 or so still in service worldwide as of 1997. I have no idea how many are still around today.
**Below taken from the Xerox website in 1997**
The Story of the 9700
Until the late 1970s, large host computers functioned almost exclusively as "number crunchers," turning out mountains of alphanumeric reports and little else. To print these rudimentary documents, impact line printers sufficed, since only one or a few type fonts were required.
But in 1977, the arrival of the high-speed Xerox 9700 laser printing system and subsequently the 8700 laser printing system, set the stage for a new genre of computer documents: illustrated manuals, catalogs, price lists, directories and other merged text-and-graphic publications. Today, these documents make up the fastest-growing area of computer printing applications.
In the early 1960s, Xerox quietly began to research the possibility of combining lasers with the "xerography" reproduction technique the company had pioneered in the previous decade.
As Xerox researchers began their laser experiments, mainframe vendors were laboring to bring the first affordable computers and impact line printers to an infant data processing market. Installed in corporate data processing centers, these systems generated page after page of accounting reports, produced on oversized continuos form paper with all upper case letters in a single font.
Eventually, as minicomputers and word processing applications gained popularity, the technology was developed to expand the character set on impact printers to include lower case letters and a few symbols.
By the end of the decade, lasers were gaining acceptance as a reliable technology. Then, in the
The 9700 sparked a new era in printing, and users were quick to take advantage of the possibilities. The printer gave data processing centers the ability to produce a variety of fonts, graphics and logos on cut-sheet paper at speeds of up to 120 pages per minute.
From a technology that was little more than a scientific curiosity, laser printing has evolved to become the business standard for convenience and quality.
The Latest from Xerox
On June 23, 1997 Xerox Corporation celebrated the 20th anniversary of what started today's multi-billion dollar laser printing industry, a new era which began with the launch of its first xerographic laser printer nearly 20 years ago, the Xerox 9700 electronic printing system.
Today, Xerox has created a growing industry with products that range from the DocuPrint 4508 at 8 ppm to the DocuPrint 420 CFT at 420 ppm.
The Xerox printing systems business has revolutionized the high-speed, high-volume document processing market.
From Don Siler (May 2005)
Your image titled:
From Dan Stewart (May 2005)
Yes, the second picture on that page, under the text "The Xerox 9700 at work
(they were routined used to print over one million impressions per month!)" is a 9500 copier. Actually, you could print 2 million pages per month if you ran it 24/7, which we often did
From Andy Plata of COPI (May 2005)
Photo 2 with the stackers is a 9500 or as we called it - an auxiliary 9700.
From Dana Cowe (May 2005)
Hey JJ and Bruce
Thanks for the greetings - so good to hear from an old mentor friend. Yes the 9700 spawned an EXCITING industry and you bore the mantle - heady pioneering days !
A hundred years of metal technology was transformed by one single gizmo - a 9700 - a giant invention!
Intran's Metaform made the 9700 an intelligent and dynamic digital proto pre-press way back in 1982. More startling looking back is that the WYSIWYG UI was done years before Apple and Lisa and Macintosh or Windows - years before! And for me 24 years later - its still as exciting as 1980 - the document has turned alive on the Internet.
From JJ Keil (former Xerox VP marketing involved with the 9700 launch and building the financial services printing business based on the 9700 - March 2005)
I was scanning the copy on the 9700 and want to thank your for the kind words. What memories? Did we move mountains or did we?
COPI - Computer Output Print & Internet, a Houston-based service bureau and the world's first reseller of used Xerox printers including the 9700.
Dr. Keith Davidson's Digital printing or digital printers, what’s the difference? Also see Xplor, the industry association built up by Keith Davidson around the phenomenon of the 9700.
Intran (MetaForm system), the first company to drive a Xerox 9700 with a graphics workstation.
Elixir Technologies Corporation, one of the first companies to create software on a standard PC to design forms, fonts and graphics for the 9700. See our pages on the history of Elixir and one of its competitors, TyRego.
Know anything more about the Xerox 9700? Contact Us!
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