A (Very) Brief History of Mobile Printing

Posted on February 20, 2014

In the beginning, words and images were created by hand. The process was slow and difficult, and written documents were expensive and highly prized.

A Chinese businessman named Bi Sheng created the first printing press during the Han Dynasty (about 1043), because he wanted a faster way to create documents for the royal court. It took another 400 years for Johannes Gutenberg to bring printing to the western world (1450).

The printing press made things less expensive, but the process was still slow and cumbersome, and printing was the province of specially trained craftsmen ? not ordinary business people.

In the 1860's, typewriters began appearing in businesses, and the legions of clerks who had toiled over ledgers and business records were replaced by typing pools. Things didn't change much until computers began to make their appearance in the middle of the 20th century.

Printing technology improved with the onset of dedicated word processing machines and computers.

The year before Hewlett-Packard launched the Laser Jet printer, Tandy Corporation launched the world's first notebook computer, the Tandy Model 100.

For the first time, people could easily carry a computer around with them, connect to networks via dial-up modem, and plug the notebook computer into any printer with the right connector.

A Failed Experiment That Changed Everything

The early notebook and portable computers became laptops, but like all their predecessors, laptops required a physical connection to a printer in order to turn digital documents into printed text. Then, in 1992, the Australian radio-astronomer John O'Sullivan created an experiment to detect exploding mini black holes the size of an atomic particle. The experiment failed, but he and his team realized that they had created something new in their attempt, and obtained a patent on a technology they called Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi changed everything. Old barriers to printing, sharing data, and transmitting files between networks and devices vanished quickly.

By the beginning of the 21st century ? roughly a thousand years after the printing press made its debut ? mobile devices were revolutionizing the way people communicated and worked.

Every year in this century has seen huge strides in the capabilities of mobile devices, as the costs and size have plummeted.

The 2014 workforce is more mobile than ever before. More than 2 billion Android, BlackBerry and Apple iOS devices access corporate networks every day. End users want access to desktop functions for all business applications, on any device, anytime, anywhere ? and printing is no exception.

A Look Back: How Mobile Printing Evolved

1983: The first notebook computer (the Tandy Model 100) is released, creating the first mobile device capable of connecting to a network and a printer.

1992: Wi-Fi is created out of a failed astrophysics experiment intended to find tiny black holes, and wireless network connections become possible.

2000: With the advent of the 21st century and increasing usage of high-end phones like BlackBerry, the market began to sense some need to help these users print.

2005: Hilton became the first hotel chain to make a significant investment in guest printing, deploying printers with email addresses across many of their properties. Other hotels followed suit, giving travelers a way to print boarding passes from their smartphones.

2005: The launch of the first iPad starts the tablet takeover ? and users soon began asking IT how to print from their tablets.

2010: Breezy launches on BlackBerry as the first app ever to allow printing email attachments to any printer, and the only print solution with on-device encryption.

2011: Apple launches AirPrint, a print subsystem for iOS that allows printing so long as the iOS device and AirPrint-enabled printer are on the same Wi-Fi subnet.

Present: U.S. courts define smartphones, MP3 players, and printers as "computers" under the federal Computer Fraud Act, making it mandatory for all companies to secure data stored or transmitted between those devices.

Breezy come to Android and iOS, launching the industry's first printer-agnostic, secure mobile printing solution that meets compliance standards and enables secure printing from any mobile device, over a secure partner network of public printers or a company's printer fleet.

Secure mobile printing is a necessity for business, and some features such as on-device encryption have become essential.

An increasing number of vendors offer mobile print solutions, but Breezy remains the only proven solution for enterprises and mid-size businesses that need an easy-to-deploy managed solution that will stand up to a compliance audit.

For more information on secure mobile printing, watch this video from Breezy, or download The Definitive Guide to Mobile Printing, a free ebook from Breezy.

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