Printer Eulogy

So my printer died the other day. Normally I wouldn’t write about something like that, but I’m quite attached to this particular piece of hardware. It’s lasted me something between 6 and 8 years – I don’t exactly recall. And at the time, I’d bought it used.

Back then I was living in a flat with some people I’d been playing Rolemaster with for several years. I’d started my first job, and would start my own business with a friend shortly thereafter1. With several people in the flat, and lots of printing to be done, I figured I’d scour ebay for a used business printer.


And boy did I find it. At the time, HP’s Laserjet printers reigned supreme in small to medium businesses. Given that back then photo printing was still in it’s infancy, and we mostly needed to print text anyway, a laser printer with network capability seemed like the perfect thing to have. So I went for a used Laserjet 5N for a few hundred German Marks.

Now technically it was a Laserjet 5 which had the network module (the N in the name) retrofitted. But that essentially makes it a 5N. Part of it’s beauty at the time was of course the networking capabilities, and part was that it supported postscript emulation. For the price tag I was willing to expend, those were killer features. Given that a network printer “needs” a hostname, I picked Gutenberg. Not the most imaginative of names, granted, but it was in honour of a proud heritage. It’s had that name ever since.

Given that it only died on me now, well over half a decade later, and probably close to a decade after it was originally purchased, it was a sound investment indeed. I’d given it to Norman for a while to help with our publishing house as well, and he surely used it more heavily than I ever did — and at the time I was still printing everything I wanted to read that was longer than a page or two.

I realize it may seem a bit strange that I’m blabbering about a cold, heartless piece of machinery like this. But it’s been an awesome and reliably companion for a long time now.

Now technically it’s not completely broken. It “just” produces paper jams all the time. And by all the time I mean on each second page. I could get it repaired and refurbished for under GBP 200,- … and I’ve considered that. It’d be an investment, yes, but given what this printer endured already, I’m sure I could continue using it for several years longer. I was very tempted.

On the other hand, for the same price (slighly less in fact), I can now get a smaller, lighter model that prints as fast, prints in colour, is supposedly designed with similarly heavy usage patterns in mind, and still comes with a network port. So I went for a new printer… as it stands, though, Gutenberg will remain in storage. I plan on trying my hand at repairing it myself.

Time to retire old Gutenberg, though. Let’s just hope its replacement does similarly well.

  1. The business still exists, but I’m not involved any longer — which is a good thing, in a way, because it was my friend’s business all along if we’re honest about it. It’s a small publishing house, Amator Veritas Verlag — and yes, you should buy all books ever published there! And no, I wouldn’t profit from that either. But if you read German, you’ll have a hard time finding similarly good contemporary literature. []