Corporate History


The world's first smallest digital printer - and progenitor of Epson

September 1968


Printing cycle time: Approx. 350 ms
Number of columns: 21
Number of characters: 16
Printing method: Line printing
Colors: Black-and-red ribbon
Spacing: 3.5 mm between columns & 5.1 mm between lines
Character size: 1.8 mm x 2.9 mm (width x height) Voltage: 17 volts dc
Media: Plain paper (paper width: 89 mm)
Size: (W) 163.5 x (D) 135 x (H) 102 mm
Weight: 2.5 kg

The EP-101 was the world's first compact, lightweight digital printer- and the origin of Epson's printer business. Representing a major breakthrough in printer size and with a simple structure, the EP-101 boasted outstanding durability and reliability. The product quickly captured the attention of electronic desktop calculator manufacturers at a time when their products were basking in the spotlight. Not only did these miniature printers find their way into calculators but they also gained use in a wide variety of other information processing equipment and measuring instrument applications.

The EP-101 consumed just one-twentieth the power required by any previous printer: 17 volts DC and from 150 to 410 mA (in standby and full-load printing, respectively). To bring the printer to realization, Epson* engineers made skillful use of the material selection know-how and other precision processing technologies that the company had developed over the years in watch manufacturing. For example, the printer was powered by an original high-efficiency, long-life motor that had been adapted from a motor used in quartz timepieces.

The EP-101, released in September 1968, was the culmination of a four-and-a-half year development program that began following the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. Having developed a printing timer as the official timekeeper at the Tokyo Olympic Games and having seen the potential that miniature printers held, Epson marshalled its resources to develop a commercial version of the printer. The commercial EP-101 dovetailed perfectly with the needs of manufacturers of such items as electronic desktop calculators and adding machines, winning it widespread attention - and orders - after its release.

In 1975 the Epson brand was launched with the hope that the company would continue to produce the "sons" of the EP-101.

*Then known as Shinshu Seiki Co., Ltd. (a subsidiary of Suwa Seikosha Co., Ltd., whose name was changed to Epson Corporation in 1982)

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