What Is a Daisy-Wheel Printer?

daisy-wheel-printer Credit: ajmexico/Flickr/CC-BY-2.0

The daisy-wheel printer was a computer printer introduced in the early 1970s. It became obsolete in the late 1980s with the introduction of affordable laser and inkjet printers able to produce high-quality print. The daisy-wheel printer produced text in a method similar to the typewriters popular at the time of its introduction.

The daisy-wheel was a replaceable metal or plastic disk with the entire character set held on the petals of the daisy. One electric motor spun the wheel to place the appropriate character in place, while another struck the petal from behind. A ribbon, much like the ribbon found on typewriters of the day, held the ink that imprinted the character on the paper. While it was possible to change font size or type, it required manually changing the daisy wheel.

Until the 1970s, most documents were prepared on typewriters. IBM used a type ball that spun to type the selected character. However, the technology limited typing speed to 10 characters per second. The daisy-wheel design increased speed to 30 characters per second. The print quality remained the same.

The daisy-wheel created text documents, but it was unable to produce graphics. The only way to change color was to change the ribbon. It was much slower than the other printer technology developed in the late 1980s. As a result, manufactures abandoned its use for computer printers.