Dot matrix was the dominant print technology in the home computing market in the days before the inkjet. Dot matrix printers produce characters and illustrations by striking pins against an ink ribbon to print closely spaced dots in the appropriate shape. They are relatively expensive and do not produce high-quality output. However, they can print to continuous stationery multi-page forms, something laser and inkjet printers cannot do.

Print speeds, specified in characters per second (cps), varies from about 50 to over 500cps. Most dot-matrix printers offer different speeds depending on the quality of print desired. Print quality is determined by the number of pins (the mechanisms that print the dots). Typically, this varies from between 9 to 24. The best dot-matrix printers (24 pins) are capable of near letter-quality type.

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