When I think of printers, I don’t think of equipment in the first place, but of craftsmen like Christophe Plantin, Jan Moretus (Museum Plantin-Moretus), Aldo Manuzio and Henri Estienne. True, printers rarely publish polyglottal bibles in Hebrew, Latin, Greek, Syriac and Aramaic these days. Equally, few of them count world-famous painters and cartographers among their friends. However, they are every bit as much experts in a range of disciplines as their famous predecessors were. Although the terminology they use and the problems they encounter these days has changed a fair bit — from colour management to colour registration errors, a problem that appears to occur even with colour laser printers — printers or printer operators are multi-disciplinary craftsmen as the Renaissance printers before them.
LED (Light Emitting Diode) technology was invented in 1927 and has been used since 1962. Initially, LEDs were only used as indicator lights and in lab equipment, but today they are available in the visible, ultra-violet and infrared spectra. LEDs are everywhere, and for a whole bunch of good reasons.
Converting printed texts into searchable digital content has been a dream since the “paperless office” got invented as a concept. The paperless office is further off today than it ever was, but the Holy Grail of accurate Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is here today, and it’s available to Mac users. ABBYY FineReader Pro was released a week ago and I’ve already converted the most difficult paper documents with an average of no more than one error every four to five paragraphs. An impressive result and one that makes OCR trustworthy enough for important work.
Although you could theoretically keep refining old mercury vapour technology, that wouldn’t be future proof. A printer manufacturer that would invest in improving mercury lamp technology would show little understanding of environmentally sound development strategies. LED is future proof, opens up new, sometimes unexpected, markets, and the inks used are no more toxic than other industrial printing inks — less, actually, as ink manufacturers are all too eager to jump on the eco-friendly bandwagon.