Laser printer inventor aims for paperless newspaper

Feb 06, 2003, vol. 26, no. 3
By Howard Fluxgold

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Gary Starkweather (left), a researcher who is trying to figure out how to take the paper out of newspapers, will speak at SFU on Feb. 17 as the last lecture in the current distinguished lecture series sponsored by the centre for systems science.

Starkweather, who is renowned for inventing the laser printer while working for Xerox in 1971, is an inventor with a determination to see a project through to completion. His development of the laser printer was not supported by Xerox even though it eventually made the company billions. “It was not what you would call a popular project,” Starkweather says.

“It was considered something that would never make it to the market in any real sense or have any practical use.”

After leaving Xerox Starkweather moved to Apple Computers where he spent 10 years, winning a technical Oscar for his consulting work with Pixar. Currently, he is working at Microsoft Research on large displays as well as methods to use paper as a transition medium between hardcopy and electronic copy where necessary.

“If we can develop flexible displays with wireless reception capabilities, we should be able to have the same characteristics as newspapers or magazines,” Starkweather theorizes.

Those characteristics include a large format that is easily scanned and divided into sections so a reader can readily access material. “The other characteristic is they are easily formatted for fast reading with such features as narrow columns,” Starkweather notes. “The display will have to be low cost so owners won't be afraid of losing it and flexible enough so it can be rolled up for convenience, like a newspaper,” he continues. The display would also need to be capable of wireless reception.
Think it can't be done? So did Xerox.

Starkweather will speak at 4:30 p.m. in AQ3182. Admission is free and open to the public. For more information contact Barry Shell at

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