At 08:25 AM 1/24/2003 -0500, Nicholas Bodley wrote:

>Although I cannot recall reading anything to this effect, it
>seems that the desire of the Japanese to use their own
>written language encouraged the development of facsimile
>("fax") and 24-pin dot-matrix impact printers.
>In short, facsimile developed rather slowly, until about the
>same time personal computer scanners and printers became

I thought fax technology in an early form was used by news gathering organizations to relay photos since about the 1920's. I think the reason it wasn't generally available was because in the US there were restrictions on placing non-ATT devices of any sort on a line, and ATT only made POT (Plain Old Telephones). This legal status didn't change until after the ATT breakup, which was in the 1980s. It is no coincidence that MCI and answering machines showed up on the scene at the same time.

The situation in Japan was slightly different - NTT was perhaps a stronger monopoly than even ATT was, but in the consumer-electronics driven era of the 70s, was probably easily persuaded by the usual electronic suspects that allowing these machines on its lines was a good idea. But even then, I think the technology was 50 years old. What made them arise in the 70s (I guess) was that it became cheap enough to manufacture them and sell them at the right price point.

As for 24 pin printers, as opposed to the older 9 pin ones, well, everything gets smaller and cheaper. It was known long before that, from video display technology, what kind of resolution was needed to create readable kanji, so it was only natural to look for better resolution in print. Anyway, few technological breakthroughs as successful as dot matrix printers stop after the first generation - I can't think of any examples at all.

Barry Caplan