Although inkjets were available in the 1980s, it was only in the 1990s that prices dropped enough to bring the technology to the high street. Canon claims to have invented what it terms 'bubble jet' technology in 1977, when a researcher accidentally touched an ink-filled syringe with a hot soldering iron. The heat forced a drop of ink out of the needle and so began the development of a new printing method.
Inkjet printers have made rapid technological advances in recent years. The three-color printer has been around for several years now and has succeeded in making color inkjet printing an affordable option; but as the superior four-color model became cheaper to produce, the swappable cartridge model was gradually phased out.
Inkjets have one massive attraction over laser printers; they produce color, and that is what makes them so popular with home users. The down side is that although inkjets are generally cheaper to buy than lasers, they are more expensive to maintain. Cartridges need to be changed more frequently and the special coated paper required to produce high-quality output is very expensive. When it comes to comparing the cost per page, inkjets work out about ten times more expensive than laser printers.
Since the invention of the inkjet, color printing has become immensely popular. Research in inkjet technology is making continual advances, with each new product on the market showing improvements in performance, usability, and output quality. As the process of refinement continues, so the price of an inkjet printers continue to fall.