Inkjet Printer

Inkjet printing produces affordable, high-quality printouts using low-cost personal desktop printers.


Ichiro Endo, of Canon, was the first to realize the idea that ink could be heated to form a small bubble, then deposited on a page to form a pixel, inkjet printing. John Vaught, a college dropout working at Hewlett-Packard, was working on similar technology. Dave Donald, who holds a bachelor and master’s degree from MIT, was Vaught’s teammate though he credits Vaught with the breakthrough.

Officially, this is a simultaneous Canon/HP innovation. On the record, both invented the same thing at the same time. Realistically, prolonged litigation and negotiation led to a cross-licensing agreement. Arguably, Canon’s printer was not commercially viable whereas HP’s was.


“You think of things that are totally unrelated… Innovators don’t go home and see it at that moment in time. It is something that has happened way back in time. As near as I can recall the percolator (inspiration) it wasn’t (rising) bubbles. If you think about it, if you left the top off, it went poof, poof, poof, and blew gobs of coffee all over the place.”

J. Vaught, describing how he envisaged the inkjet mechanism that shoots ink

“Vaught carried the ball in selling the innovation. After the innovator sees it, the innovator says to heck with it, the management doesn’t care, and walks away as I did. Or he says I don’t care I’m gonna’ push these guys anyway, and they can’t do anything cause I’m at the bottom of the totem pole, and they can’t push me any lower. And then (Vaught) gained the help of a guy named Larry LaBarre, who was known on a first name basis by the top people in the corporation, Hewlett and Packard and also Barney Oliver, the three men who really determined what went on. They knew John’s enthusiasm as conveyed by Larry LaBarre. That sense of mutual trust then got transmitted to the very top of the corporation, completely around the guys who managed the project.”

David Donald, HP

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