I was in the battlefield in print media back in the day, and I’m thinking about the epic Steve Jobs vs. Jean Louis Gasse and John Skully wars were what ultimately what caused the demise of the LaserWriter. After he convinced The founder of Adobe to license PostScript software for use on Macs, Jobs invested a lot of time, energy and creativity attempting to convince at least one printer manufacturer to make a desktop laser printer that would run PostScript language that would reside on the printer. The printer manufacturers thought this was one of the dumbest things they had ever heard and Jobs had no takers.
Jobs was pretty much forced to have Apple develop PS printers on their own. He also had the vision to foresee how important good typography would be to small and large businesses as well as to individuals and families, and how important type and design was to creative businesses, so he developed Apple Talk (or whatever else the networking was called) so printers could be shared, which was something manufacturers of small business and home printers weren’t doing at the time. They thought they would continue going gangbusters with daisy wheels.
Macs were the Trojan Horse that brought LaserWriters into businesses and households. Unfortunately, a few years later Apple’s profits started to tank. Windows was evolving enough to have Photoshop, Illustrator, Quark, etc. run on it, though it still couldn’t handle PS fonts or manage the necessary quality level for high quality imagesetting. It still doesn’t.
Scully and Gasse both ended up hating Jobs and didn’t just want him fired. They want every trace of him eliminated from Apple, and maybe even from the face of the earth. This probably included the lock he established for Apple with PS and high end design. I can’t remember whether it was both or either one of the Jobs rival schools that decided to team up with Microsoft to develop TrueType fonts and make TT the standard on Macs, but that was the first big blow to LaserWriter. Homes and small businesses no longer needed a LaserWriter to create nice looking letters, address envelopes, make invitations, newsletters, flyers, etc.
Even Adobe thought they didn’t need Apple anymore. Once other font companies started pricing TT versions of fonts less expensively than PS, they started going along. They started issuing Photoshop versions a year before the Mac. They initially developed Dreamweaver for Macs first, then they said they were going to stop Mac development, and also said they would release After Effects for PC but not Mac. Avid said they would release a PC version but not a Mac version.
So Steve Jobs returned to Apple in full combat mode. And it turned out that TT fonts didn’t work well for high end printing (and to this day they still don’t), and Quark, etc.The few printers that did accept them would charge extra for the necessary prepress work. Adobe was pretty much forced to develop OpenType that would run on both Macs and PCs. And Apple caused major damage with relatively cheap-o Final Cut Pro, as well as ultimately free iPhoto, etc.
The success of LaserWriters convinced printer manufacturers that there was a huge market for reasonably priced laser printers. Design technology and computer memory advanced so much that they didn’t require separate memory for actual fonts to reside on the printers and low res screen fonts on Macs or PCs. Software became so sophisticated and apps more easy to develop and prevalent that PS language wasn’t such a big schlemiel anymore, and desktop printers could now emulate PPS beautifully. Businesses and individuals began communicating electronically and commercial and individual printing continues to fall off.
Printers got cheaper and cheaper and more and more capable. Apple almost committed suicide when it began competing on price and licensing its technology. Once printers became what would have been a low or no profit margin item, it no longer made sense for Apple to manufacture them.