The dot matrix prints via the direct impact of an ink-soaked cloth ribbon against the paper. Much like the mechanism of a typewriter, a dot matrix printer uses a print head moving back-and-forth, or in an up-and-down motion. The print head then hits a carbon ribbon leaving an imprint on the paper, which making the distinct noise we recognise from any blockbuster from the 1940s. However, unlike a typewriter or daisy wheel printer, letters are drawn out of a dot matrix, and thus, varied fonts and arbitrary graphics can be produced.
The device was very popular from the 1970s to 1990s, and is the most commonly used form of printer for home and office computers. Although dot matrix printers are no longer as popular as they were following the advent of laser printers, they are still used with devices such as ATM’s, cash registers, and POS terminals.