What's in a name?
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By Sophie Matthews-Paul
3 February 2012
Letters and numbers are now more frequently used for machine names
Back in the early days when wide-format ink-jet printers were first making their way into the industry, most were given names which were supposed to appeal and, presumably, be memorable. The word 'jet' appeared frequently to endorse the technology shrouded within their casings, and many of even the oldest platforms can be recalled in an instant because of their monikers.
Most people (fortunately, they might say) don't have a memory like mine. I can never recall anyone's name or the ratio of ingredients for Yorkshire pudding. But, ask me for a machine's nomenclature or for its technical specification, not matter its vintage, and I'll probably be able to reel it off just like that.
Trends change. Although there are some platforms, or series, with names, today's market has become increasingly dominated by machines with numbers and the occasional letter in their titles. Manufacturers obviously have a reason for taking this route but, inevitably, there have been clashes with groups of digits so that an alphabetical prefix has to be added to clarify which platform is which.
Sometimes there's a clue in these numbers as they reveal print width or maximum speed. Others don't seem to follow any particular pattern to the man on the Clapham omnibus and merely serve as a mysterious form of identification. Some people claim they miss having a printer with a name but, in a serious industry sector, the equipment is probably more deserving of a sensible moniker than a catchy title which was dreamed up by a marketing department on a rainy Friday afternoon.
Historically there have been a few clangers with machine names which, in their home language, might make perfect sense. But translate some of these into English, and their meanings are quite different and not always complementary. Most of us can remember milestone technologies, and how they were addressed in terms of printer titles. But when acquisitions have meant that former familiar terms need to be merged in with a purchaser's existing portfolio of products, cataloguing and identification can become a little more complex.
When wide-format ink-jet printers first appeared with their often strange monikers, perhaps none of us really believed that the technology would take off in the way that it has to result in serious systems for serious PSPs and display producers. As a result, today's mix of alphabetical and numerical nomenclature tends to reflect that the machines behind the names mean business, and aren't just developed and built on the whims of a team of developers.
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