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I miss computing’s Cambrian period, when Datasouth printers still roamed the Earth (or at least its offices). They were made in Charlotte by durability fanatics and could not be killed. The DS-180, for example (that’s a fossil scan of a fossil fax of one, above), was a thundering dot matrix mother that could pound clear type through six-part forms, endlessly, and without complaint. Loved those things.

But that was then.

Printers do lots more now, and much better, during the brief spans that the fucking things actually work.

I am convinced that printers today are designed for suicide. They are made to kill themselves, but only after consuming toner or ink so ravenously that your $50 laser or your $120 ink jet has digested $5600 worth of consumables before failing right after you buy some more, which (of course!) won’t work with the new replacement models from the same company. Fun!

I bring this up because I have a dead Brother and a dead Espon here, one with new toner and the other with new ink, and I need to go out and buy a replacement for at least one of them. Let’s hope it has at least some will to live. (Alas, hope is the best I can do. Faith is asking too much.)

Originally published on Doc Searls Weblog.

Written by

Author of The Intention Economy, co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto, Fellow of CITS at UCSB, alumnus Fellow of the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard.

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