Daisy Wheel Printer

Definition of Daisy Wheel Printer

A Daisy Wheel Printer is a type of impact printer that was popular in the 1970s and 1980s. It uses a rotating daisy-shaped print wheel, consisting of numerous metal petals with a character embossed on each one. As the daisy wheel rotates, the desired character is struck against an inked ribbon, imprinting the character onto the paper.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Daisy Wheel Printer” is:Day-zee-weel-prihn-tuhr

Key Takeaways

  1. Daisy Wheel Printers are impact printers that use a spinning disk with characters embossed on it, known as the “daisy wheel”, to produce printed text on paper.
  2. These printers were popular in the 1970s and 1980s, known for producing high-quality text output, which was an advantage over dot matrix printers. However, they were limited to monospaced typefaces and were generally slower in printing speed.
  3. With the advent of more advanced and efficient printing technologies, such as inkjet and laser printers, daisy wheel printers have become largely obsolete due to their limitations and lack of additional features like graphics printing or colors.

Importance of Daisy Wheel Printer

The technology term “Daisy Wheel Printer” is important because it represents a significant milestone in the development of early computer printers and word-processing devices.

Invented in the 1960s by David S.

Lee, the daisy wheel printer is a type of impact printer that utilizes a rotating circular printing element, commonly known as the “daisy wheel.” This wheel features various raised characters and punctuation marks on its flexible spokes that, when struck against an inked ribbon, produce strikingly crisp and clear text on paper.

As a precursor to modern-day printers, daisy wheel printers played a vital role in transitioning from typewriters to more advanced digital printing technology.

Their innovative design, high print quality, and ability to produce near-typeset quality documents significantly improved the efficiency and accessibility of office printing and word processing, making them a crucial development in the computer technology landscape.


Daisy wheel printers emerged as a vital technology for professional printing purposes in the late 1960s. The fundamental purpose of these printers was to produce clean, crisp, and high-quality printouts in documents, particularly for formal business correspondences, reports, and contracts.

They served as an essential tool for offices, where the need to produce large volumes of legible and visually appealing printed materials was paramount. Moreover, daisy wheel printers played a pivotal role in the transition from manual typewriters to the more automated printers often found in business settings in the late 20th century.

These printers received their iconic name from a wheel resembling the petals of a daisy. The wheel featured individual characters embossed on the tips of the ‘petals’, which would strike the ink ribbon, and subsequently mark the character onto the paper.

This enabled the daisy wheel printer to reproduce exact fonts and consistent letter sizes with each strike, making it highly suitable for situations where accuracy and uniformity were essential. Despite being considerably slower than subsequent printers, such as dot matrix and laser printers, the daisy wheel printer maintained its relevance for specific tasks where sharp, professional-looking printouts took precedence over speed and efficiency.

Examples of Daisy Wheel Printer

IBM Selectric Typewriter: Although not technically a “daisy wheel printer,” IBM Selectric Typewriters are a direct precursor to daisy wheel printers. They were first introduced in 1961 and used a unique typing element, known as a “golf ball,” that rotated and impacted the paper to create the desired character. This concept later evolved into daisy wheel printers which separated the wheel and print head.

Diablo 630: The Diablo 630, introduced in 1972, is considered the first commercial daisy wheel printer. It was developed by Diablo Data System, distinctively known for its ability to print at 30 characters per second. The printer became widely popular for offices and gained massive attention as Xerox acquired Diablo Data System in 1972, thus incorporating the 630 into its product line.

Brother HR-5: Introduced during the 1980s, the Brother HR-5 was a portable daisy wheel printer that provided users with convenient, high-quality printing. The compact size and portability of the HR-5 made it stand out from other daisy wheel printers of that time. It was usually seen utilized with personal computers or word processors, making it a popular choice for mobile professionals or home use.

FAQ: Daisy Wheel Printer

What is a Daisy Wheel Printer?

A Daisy Wheel Printer is a type of impact printer that uses a rotating wheel (called the daisy wheel) to print characters. The wheel has embossed, fixed alphabetical, numerical and special characters on its spokes, which produce the printed text when they strike the ink ribbon and transfer the ink onto the paper.

How does a Daisy Wheel Printer work?

When a character needs to be printed, the printer rotates the daisy wheel to position the desired character in front of the print hammer. The print hammer then strikes the back of the character, pushing it against the ink ribbon and transferring ink onto the paper, thereby imprinting the character on the paper. The paper moves one space over, and the process is repeated for each character.

What are the advantages of a Daisy Wheel Printer?

The primary advantage of a Daisy Wheel Printer is the high-quality, consistent lettering it provides, often compared to the output of a typewriter. This was especially valued during the late 20th century when laser and inkjet printers were not yet widely available or affordable. Daisy Wheel Printers were often used for printing formal documents and reports.

What are the disadvantages of a Daisy Wheel Printer?

Some disadvantages of a Daisy Wheel Printer include its slow printing speed, limited character set, inability to print graphics, and the noise generated during printing. Additionally, compared to modern printers like inkjet and laser printers, Daisy Wheel Printers are considered obsolete due to their limitations and reduced print quality.

What is the difference between a Daisy Wheel Printer and a Dot Matrix Printer?

The main difference between a Daisy Wheel Printer and a Dot Matrix Printer lies in their print mechanisms and capabilities. A Daisy Wheel Printer uses a rotating wheel with embossed characters to print, whereas a Dot Matrix Printer uses a print head with pins that move to form characters or graphics using a series of dots. A Dot Matrix Printer is more versatile, as it can print graphics and offers multiple fonts, while a Daisy Wheel Printer has a fixed character set and cannot print graphics.

Related Technology Terms

  • Impact Printing
  • Character Printing
  • Printer Ribbon
  • Dot Matrix Printer
  • Typewriter Mechanism

Sources for More Information


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