Gadgets of days gone by: HP DeskJet 500

This week at CrunchGear, we’re looking back at some of our favorite gadgets from the not-so-distant past — old phones, computers, media players, toys… those devices that still stand out in our memories despite their obsolescence. Feel free to contribute some of your own nostalgia.

The Hewlett Packard DeskJet 500 was the first printer I bought with my own money. I spent a lot on it, but it was an investment: it was a new era of inkjet printing, and my hand-me-down Okidata dot matrix printer just wasn’t going to cut it any more. I was a freshman in college, cranking out papers for class, and marveling at the quality of the letters on the page. I have absolutely no memory of how much replacement ink cartridges cost back then, but I do know that it was a fraction of the cost of the printer itself — unlike today, where a new printer can be had for only marginally more than buying replacement ink cartridges!

The HP DeskJet 500 was a workhorse. It never failed me in college, or beyond. I printed a lot, and never had a paper jam. Ink cartridges seemed to last forever, as I printed off revision after revision of essays about the Hobbesian State of Nature. I dabbled at “desktop publishing” with fliers and brochures for family events. Everything I threw at the DeskJet 500 printed. Everything.

I never had trouble installing printer drivers. It worked with DOS, Windows 3.1, and I think I even used it during that summer when I was tinkering with OS/2 Warp. I recommended the DeskJet 500 to everyone I met.

I have never owned a more reliable printer.