Printers

Cracking open Hewlett Packard's IIP, the original personal LaserJet printer

The Hewlett Packard LaserJet IIP

The Hewlett Packard LaserJet IIP popularized the desktop personal laser printer. Released in 1989, the model was among the very first laserjets available for less than $1,000. Deemed a "milestone" printer by the New York Times, the paper touted the unit's light weight (the IIP weighed *just* 25 pounds). Here's what made the IIP tick.

The design was beige and boxy.

Note: This gallery was originally published in May, 2007, but I'm resurfacing it to celebrate the HP LaserJet IIP's 21st birthday in 2010.

Photo by: Erik Eckel / TechRepublic.com

 

About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

40 comments
yareallygotmegoin
yareallygotmegoin

Great old printers. Lexmark uses HP III drivers as the base for their new MF devices.

gwyn909
gwyn909

I recently had to throw out my HP Laserjet II because I couldn't get the fuser unit for cheaper than a new printer! After 20 years of impeccable service I had to give it a funeral. Brilliant printer.

amzador
amzador

The Original LaserJet printer was based on the Canon LBP-CX engine (like the CDS-2300 I bought in 1983). This LaserJet is second-generation as the "IIP" indicates.

mba1jp
mba1jp

#10, TRANSFER Roller NOT a Fuser roller. First HP/canon printer to use one.

spaul940
spaul940

The original list price was $1,500 but Computerland (another voice in the past) had them on sale from day one at $1,000 (bought one the first day available in New Hampshire - no sales tax). Lasted 6 or 7 years.

tomkinsr
tomkinsr

I have an identical printer, the DECLaser 1152. It speaks PostScript Level II and PCL. The supported interfaces on mine are parallel, serial and Appletalk. It has 4MB of memory and an optional paper tray mounted on the bottom. Recently, the quality of toner cartridges has declined and I have been unable to get a cartridge that will complete it's use without some fogging appearing in the printing about mid-life. When I say identical, the plastic housing, the mechanical inside are the same. I was once told that the actual engine was made by Sharp and then sold to HP, DEC and Apple.

AllenT_z
AllenT_z

In late August of 1984 my department bought an original LJ, which I believe was the first one sold in Austin, TX. We bought it on the spot for $4,995 less a discount of 10 or 15 percent. The only way to use anything besides Courier was with plug-in cartridges, and the strings that were needed to control anything and everything were filled with ones and lower-case Ls, zeros and capital Os (with no slashes to distinguish). Nevertheless I fell in love with it. Almost immediately we networked it for about a dozen users and it ran at about twice its rated capacity. By the time I retired 9 years later we had totally outgrown its limited features and moved it to another department. In those nine years the total number of service calls: 0 (zero). An amazing machine for its time. Allen retired, NOT a system Admin, or whatever this system thinks I am)

scotts
scotts

Did you take the pictures with an equally old camera? White balance, focus... I don't really care I just thought it was funny.

ppsamerica
ppsamerica

Anyone have a IIP or IIP Plus print for parts? I need the small right hand plastic display cover.Thanks

billyo92833
billyo92833

Awesome!! I still have a LJII, IIp, and 2 LJIII's!! My employer tired of the maintenance cost and let me bring them home. With a $50 toner cartridge (and a LOT more space on my desk) I could put any one of them back into service tomorrow! All were still working when the toner ran out and I packed them away. Simple service tip: When I was confronted with multiple weird service codes on these machines, I discovered that the connections between the various modules shown in this 'Crack', were known to be primitive and unreliable, especially when you add in toner infiltration into the mix. Often, major faults can be eliminated by taking apart, cleaning, and reseating the connections between the various boards, as well as a general overall cleaning. It is tedious, but these are BIG parts, and all you need is a couple of good Phillips screwdrivers and some time. Rough up the surface on the pickup rollers, pray that all the gears are still good, and that $50 toner cartridge will STILL print out an amazing quantity of documents in your home, for about the same price as 2 or 3 ink cartridges! I LOVE these machines! Lots of free service tips at the HP site. (You have to register as an IT professional to get access to the GOOD user Q & A section.)

wyattbest
wyattbest

Where is the actual laser? I might just be dense, but I didn't see it anywhere.

shtick
shtick

What the f*&^ is a 'video controller assembly in a laserjet 2p? I've worked on thousands of them and I've never heard of that part.

terry1919
terry1919

I remember that printer....was the first one we had at an engineering firm in 1990 I now have the HP1020 bought in 2004....the same technology but 1/10 the price

MikeSilver
MikeSilver

This was my first printer on my old 286 system with a whopping 65mb RLL seagate hard drive. It was a work horse and finally died after about 10 years. I had bought an accessory card from Hp that was manufactured by QMS down in Alabama. It made the Laserjet emulate a Postscript printer. I was in heaven when I got 33 fonts!

hnoyes
hnoyes

The laser is actually a laser diode. It is not readily visible because of government regulations that required it to be in a enclosure with a very limited opening. Image 19 is the laser scanner assembly. The laser diode is inside the black plastic housing at the top of the assembly -- the one with the barcode label on it. The laser shines through a small opening, strikes the scanning mirror (which is being very rapidly rotated by the scanner motor), and is reflected onto the electrophotographic drum inside the toner cartridge. The changing angle of the mirror, as it rotates, is what "scans" the laser beam across the width of the page. How do I know? I was part of the HP R&D team... Hope this answers your questions.

hnoyes
hnoyes

I was part of the R&D Team at HP that developed the HP LJ IIP, so I feel "qualified" to answer a few questions... The basic engine was made by Canon. The formatter PCA, I/O PCA, and memory expansion PCAs were designed and manufactured by HP. All the quality and government regulations testing were done at HP. Canon did sell the engine to others, as well as produced their own version. I know Apple and Brother were customers. I do not know if DEC was a customer. The design goal for the printer was to print 250,000 pages with NO decrease in print quality, jam rates, paper skew, etc. HP tested many machines to "life". I am not surprised at all that people are still using these.

mystica999
mystica999

actually it is the transfer roller. But who cares. what a blast from the past.

pfsch1
pfsch1

I've had one for years but mine needed repairs due to the infamaous Error 50 - fuser problem. I now have to replace the fuser again - error 50 returned after many years with the first replacement. Still pondering whether to do it or not because I now have a Canon iP3000 printer - color, faster and prints on bothe sides of the paper

mparegian
mparegian

My HP LaserJet III still works great!! I put MICR toner cartridges in it and use it exclusively for printing out all my checks...I know that eventually I will have to replace it and I'm sure not looking forward to that!!!

wfs1946
wfs1946

I bought a brand new HP IIIP when they first hit the market, it is still running in my Church's library printing library cards and other reports for them. It still runs like it was new. The best $850 I ever spent on computer equipment. I now have an HP2200D that I purchased for $29 that had less than 5000 sheets run through it. It had a full toner cartridge in it as well. Brand new HP cartridge at that.

butkus
butkus

I have one left running in my school. I found a free cartridge ($130 current price) so it will be around until that cartridge dies. Biggest problem is the front clutch goes and you get paper jam errors. I had some 20 IIIP in a college I worked at in the '90s. Never a problem for 7 years and a few years after I left they were in a pile out for being recycled, meaning they still worked. They were slow and you had to change portrait and landscape printing by the front buttons.

vduber
vduber

The HPII was a great printer. I stumbled across 2 in my basement recently and couldn't resist powering them up. Used the one to fix the other, sold the left over parts on Ebay. I was surprised how many people keep these work horses going! I sure didn't get rich on that sale but somewhere, someone got their printer going. My exposure to QMS was working on their Xerox laser engine based (2400) floor laser printers. Also their Canon based desktop units. Great memories of the 2 week training in Mobile Alabama.

midnightriderz
midnightriderz

What fond memories I have..... This printer was a workhorse. You couldn't break it if you tried.

brad.thompson
brad.thompson

The LJ IIP's high-voltage supply board offers a convenient source of hard-to-get parts-- high-voltage ceramic capacitors (blue disc-ceramic caps), high-voltage rectifier diodes (located near the creepage-path extender slots milled in the board), high-value resistors (flat black radial-lead parts), and step-up transformers. Apps include Geiger-counter power supplies and anything else that needs a few KV at microampere levels. As a bonus, you can save the garden-variety discrete components for general-purpose uses. Best of all, the single-sided PC board unsolders easily. 73-- Brad AA1IP

mjd420nova
mjd420nova

HP had the right idea and spent a lot developing the process that became a benchmark for other manufacturers. NEC was the first one to make a dedicated PS printer and it was the LC-890. By contrast, it was a piece of junk compared to the HP. Biggest problem with the HP was cleaning the paper path after a user fed it an old sheet of labels and half of the labels stuck inside.

RROTHLEUTNER
RROTHLEUTNER

Hats off to the designers and engineers of HP for the IIP Plus. Few machines can claim an equal active lifetime.

billyo92833
billyo92833

Lots of fuser faults are caused by bad connections between the component boards. Check out my other post today, and check out the HP site. Good hunting!

tcox
tcox

I have a HP IIP as well and it has worked great. But now it jams everytime I start to print. Could an old toner cartridge be causing this? I don't see any other obvious mechanical issue, but that doesn't mean much. Does anyone know of common problems that may cause jamming with this HP workhorse?

3feathers
3feathers

I bought this printer in 1991; it has been used 2-3 times per week since. I do nothing to it except dust the inside with a paintbrush occasionally. The ink cartidge manufacters have reduced the maximum output from about 7000 to 3900 sheets per cartidge, although I generally get over 5000 per cartidge. It squeaks when I don't use it often enough and I use only 18 LB paper and fan the pack. 20 LB will jam once in a while.

Jay Purple
Jay Purple

I do remember dad having one of these in his office! According to him I once put dirt in the cartridge door... hehe. I wouldn't mind having one of these purely for a museum-like piece.

jcitron
jcitron

They don't make them like this anymore. This printer along with its cousins the LJIII/IIID were the main printers at one place I worked at. These workhorses served many departments for many years, and the last time I visited there 3 years ago, some of the old printers were still in service. The computer room there used the larger Si series printers to print out customer letters. The 3Si's printed over 350,000 letters per quarter in triplicate so that was really over 1 Million pages per quarter. All we did was change the feed assembly and the rollers just before the quarterly print-outs. When my former employer closed, we were still using a LJIIID. This printer was well over 15 years old and still going strong.

wfs1946
wfs1946

If you live in an area where the humidity is high the paper could be slightly damp and this can cause paper jams, try a brand new freshly opened ream of paper and see if it still jams. The other thing paper related is paper dust buildup in the paper path that causes jams as well. Good luck.

tomkinsr
tomkinsr

I used a 500 grit sandpaper on the rollers and dusted the outside of each roller twice and then re-assembled. Cleaning did not produce wanted results, this roughing up did produce good results. I cannot stress enough though, two passes with light pressure maximum, like dusting your mothers fine bone china.

mikebenz7254
mikebenz7254

There is a low probability the toner is causing jams. Most likely it is the "drum drive gear" on the right side of the printer. Used to cost about $3, last I got one they were about $12, don't know if they are still available. Part # RG1-1777. Not to hard to replace.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

There are products for cleaning typewriter platens; contact a typewriter repair shop or try the web. I used to use a product I think was called "Roller Renew" to breathe new life into many a II / III. Use it outside and with gloves; it has a strong pepperminty odor and is a mild irritant. Wipe every rubber roller you can find with it. Turn the rollers so you can get all surfaces, and use a cotton swap to get in the tight spaces. These product have a reconditioning effect so the rollers are more flexible and get a better grip on the paper. If you can't get it, try isopropyl alchohol, but the other stuff is much better.

lsl-temp
lsl-temp

I find using a better grade of paper works best. This is my primary printer that is connected on a print server servicing four computers on a small home/office network. I can still purchase the cartridges for less than $70, although slimmer every time. I use to blow through 3 cartridges a year and considered replacing it with a newer lower cost and more efficient unit, but now that I?ve almost gone to a paperless, a single cartridge is lasting almost 20 months.

scoobertvondill
scoobertvondill

Your jams are being caused by the toner cartridge drive gear assy. It is a common problem with this model. If you remove the right side cover you will be able to remove the gear assy. It is held on to the frame with three screws. The symptom is a paper jam directly under the photoreceptor and transfer roller. Part number is RG1-1777-000CN Gear assembly - Right side - Drives EP drum in toner cartridge