What color dot matrix printers exist during 1980s & 1990s (I already know Apple ImageWriter 2)? How their quality and speed compare with ImageWriter 2.

  • Not enough for an answer but here goes: I recall seeing one color dot-matrix printer back in the '80s. RGBK and the colors were very dark and unsaturated. Quality was considered pretty poor even for the time. Not sure of the printer model but it was hooked up to an 8-bit Apple. Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 1:23

4 Answers 4


In the late 80ies I bought myself a STAR LC-10 C color dot matrix printer for my Amiga.

The Quality was "impressive" (if you hold the printout 2-4m away ). In normal reading distance you could recognize the dots and see the patterns in graphics.

The Speed was awful. in high quality mode the printer needed to print every line twice and this was my default mode. For a nice graphic in half page mode it took approx 1 hr(maybe 30-40 min.. it is long time ago, but it was sllooooww).

The Sound was loud! You could never print anything later in the night because it would literally "scream" while spitting out the data onto the paper

One benefit over todays printers was it could handle continuous form paper. Which I used extensively to print out my source codes to work on them on my way to school(no laptops).

The second benefit was its sturdiness: I think I never saw anything comparable ever again. The printer was heavy but seemingly indestructible. It worked even after 20 years(in the basement). I just throwed it away when I need to move, but it was fully functional, nothing broken, everything ran as on the first day.

  • 1
    If I recall correctly, the LC-10C was the colour version; the LC-10 was black and white. Colour was realised by means of a four colour ribbon (CYMK) which was moved up and down in front of the print head. Commented Dec 24, 2020 at 15:21
  • ohh yes you are correct! I fixed that in my answer! Commented Dec 27, 2020 at 18:34

Only a personal anecdote, but I had a Commodore MCS810 (connected to a C64). I only note it because I don't remember seeing anything before or since, and naturally, it is long gone and this is all recalled from the depths of memory.

It used a thermal wax ribbon and could take a colour or black ribbon.

The colour ribbon featured alternating strips of (from memory) cyan, magenta and yellow sections, each a page width. When printing in colour, it would of course have to advance by the full width each time to get a pass on all three colours, while the black ribbon only advanced as much as needed, making colour printing at least 3 times slower than black.

I remember it had a better resolution than many printers I had seen, I would say 24 pixels/row and could do bitmapped graphics, but I may be mistaken.

A full row pass, I recall, would take around 1-2 seconds, so at least triple that for colour. Obviously, with less-than-full lines, black would be much faster.

So, in summary, pretty amazing quality at the time, but so, so slow.


There were many during the 80s, as almost every printer manufacturer had one or more. A short list may include (from faint memory):

The last being the base for the Imagewriter II as Apple had them manufactured by Itochu, like the Imagewriter and the Apple DMP before.

Not to mention thermal transfer ones like

And of course daisy wheel ones with multi colour ribbons like

  • Brother's HR-25

These are all 198x printers. A few more, usually continued lines came during the early 1990s until everything in that class was taken over by inkjet printers.

Doing a useful comparison seems beyond a useful compact answer.

  • 1
    I remember the Star and the Okimate.
    – RonJohn
    Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 3:52
  • 1
    If you want to see one in action, Clint from Lazy Game Reviews bought a Star NX-2420 and then some New Old Stock ribbons. (1) (2).
    – ssokolow
    Commented Dec 23, 2020 at 9:40
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    The company is "C.Itoh", not "C.Itho"
    – Armand
    Commented Dec 26, 2020 at 16:43

The grandfather of all of the color dot-matrix printers was the Epson JX-80, available from 1983. The commands it used to select the colors, starting with a escape-R, were used by practically everyone else.

Around 1985/6, Epson introduced a new model with a 24-pin head, I believe the LQ-300-II. We had one at work and printed out all sorts of GIFs, many of them from one of the employee's sisters who had quite a talent for swords-n-sorcery imagry.

I always throught the ImageWriter II was an Epson but I see it was a C.Itoh.

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