Epson MX-80 Dot-Matrix Printer

Dot-matrix print technology dominated the market for inexpensive printers for microcomputers in the late 1970s and into the 1990s. The Epson MX-80 was arguably the most significant of them. It certainly established Epson as an industry leader in printers when it was introduced in 1980.

Epson MX-80 dot-matrix printer
Source: Epson, 1981

Like other printers of its type, the MX-80’s printhead used a set of pins that would be triggered to impact an inked ribbon that would then produce a dot on a sheet of paper. The dots could be arranged to form of a character–the MX-80 produced characters in a 9 x 9 dot grid–or graphics. Epson was able to refine the technology for greater precision using research it gained as a watch and miniprinter manufacturer.

What set the MX-80 apart was that it was cheap and bulletproof. We had several in the offices of 80 Micro, and they just kept going under heavy workloads for years. It also took up less desk space than many of its competitors–a significant advantage at the time.

According to Epson, the MX-80 owned 60% of the market for personal computer printers in Japan at one point.

Introduced: October, 1980
Base Configuration: 9 x 9 dot matrix printhead, JIS 128 or ASCII 96 character set
Print speed: 80 characters/second
Line length: 40, 66, 80, or 132 columns
Size/Weight: 14.75w x 12d 4.25h inches, 12 lbs 2 oz.

Published by

Michael Nadeau

I am the author of Collectible Microcomputers (Schiffer Books, 2002) and have been an editor of many technology publications including BYTE, 80 Micro, and HOT CoCo. My interest in the history of information technology is broad. I use my blogs, ClassicTech and Vintage Computer Photos, to build on the work I did for Collectible Microcomputers.

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