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Gary Starkweather inventor of the laser printer

Gary Starkweather (1938–2019), inventor of the laser printer

by Linnea Crowther

Gary Starkweather was an engineer and inventor best known for designing the first laser printer. Starkweather was working for Xerox in 1969 when he began working on a system to transmit information from one copy machine to another. This work led to his development of the laser printer, and he was a part of the design team for the first laser printing system two years later. Within a few decades, the technology was in offices and homes across America. Later, while working for Apple, Starkweather invented color management technology, which allows color to display similarly across different devices.

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Died: December 26, 2019 (Who else died on December 26?)

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Details of death: Died at a hospital in Orlando, Florida of leukemia at the age of 81.


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An idea that almost didn’t happen: When Starkweather first began working on the technology that would birth the laser printer, his bosses at Xerox wanted him to stop. Their business was copiers, and what Starkweather was working on didn’t relate to the company’s core goals. He was threatened with firing before he managed to talk the bosses into moving him to the company’s new research lab and going ahead with the development of the visionary machine.

Notable quote: “If you have a good idea, you can bet someone else doesn’t think it’s good.” —from a 1997 lecture at the Computer History Museum

What people said about him: “A genius inventor and an incredibly generous and kind person.” —Steven Sinofsky, former Microsoft executive

Full obituary: The New York Times

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