Ode to my HP 4P


Interface on the HP Laserjet 4P \"00 Ready\"

My laser workhorse.
00 READY since
nineteen-ninety three.

I used this printer through both of my undergraduate programs. Considering that one of them was an art school where I ran various tissues, photographic papers, boards, transparencies, Japanese papers, and mylar through it, it’s more than a miracle that it’s still printing perfectly today. Since then, I’ve been printing all of my diagrams, résumés and proposals.

I should have killed this printer by now.

When I purchased the HP Laserjet 4P, the battery on my Motorola cellular phone was an inch thick. I’ve gone through three scanners, eleven computers, and five monitors. My experience owning this printer has been so good that I haven’t had to think about the printer in about ten years. The printer prints – consistently.

My experience has only been positive because I’ve ignored its user interface quirks. One of the things that I finally paid attention to today is the error messages. They’re not friendly. PC LOAD LETTER was that joke in Office Space. I never really got the joke because the printer had already trained me to know what it meant. In case it’s not immediately obvious to you, it means the printer is out of letter-sized paper. Paper Cassette Load Letter.

Once you have loaded your letter paper cassette, the next intuitive error message is 00 READY. This one is the printer’s way of saying OK. HP kept these two digit codes that were used on the previous generation of printers – even though they had more than two characters in the 4 series’ display. Double zeros means no error – get it? The printer has trained me well.

Not to sound too much like a grumpy old man – but, do you have any technology today that you’ll be using fifteen years from now? Your laptop? Your XBOX 360? Your 3G iPhone?

In fifteen years, your 3G iPhone will be a joke. But, I’ll still be printing four pages per minute at 600 dpi on my HP Laserjet 4P – assuming they still make the toner.

2 Responses to “Ode to my HP 4P”

  1. Elaine says:

    I LOVED my HP 4P at my old job; it was a cast-off from someone else in my department, and probably 4 or 5 years old already when I took it. I gave it up, with a little sadness, when my employer was going through a paper-saving phase and reducing the number of printers. Despite PC LOAD LETTER, it was shockingly solid & reliable.

  2. Lori says:

    ah yes, my beloved tank…..I too have gone through lots of equipment but refuse to part with my 4P …..I have just treated it to a new cable (serial/usb) so I can continue using it with my new laptop….It keeps on going AND doesn’t cost a fortune to run! It’s a gem! When upgrading to other equipment, my family gets my ‘old’ stuff but they know not to touch the 4P!!!!!!!!