A printer’s interface consists of hardware (called port) and software (driver) to communicate with PC. Printers have one or more interfaces which should match on printer and PC like an HP LaserJet 4L have only a parallel port so, a parallel cable and driver is needed. Various interfaces are discussed.
Parallel – It was the most popular way of communicating with PC. It consists of a male DB-25 connector that connects to PC and a male 36-pin Centronics connector that connects to the printer. Most of the cables were less than 10 feet long.
Universal Serial Bus (USB) – It is the most popular interface today. It gives a higher transfer rate and it is automatically recognized on PC.
Network – It allows printers to have a network interface card (NIC) and ROM-based software to communicate with network attached servers and PC. It can be wired or wireless network card.
Infrared – Many laser printers have infrared transmitter/receivers to communicate with the infrared ports on many handhelds and PDA so that user of a PDA, handheld, or laptop can print to that printer by pointing the device at the printer and initiating the print process.
SCSI – Few printers use SCSI interfaces. It has benefit of multiple devices on single SCSI connection, simple to implement and large throughput. But have now become obsolete.
IEEE 1394 Firewire – Apple developed it and this interface supports throughput of 800MBps. High end graphics and typesetting use it.
Wireless – It is of many different kinds as it uses IEEE 802.11 wireless networking or Bluetooth so that it is possible for people to roam around an office and still able to print. Printers have built-in 802.11 interfaces or Bluetooth capability. The data to print is transmitted wirelessly through the air using radio waves and is received by the device.