The Apoptosis of a Color Printer

(Ok, I understand apoptosis is usually not used (or useful) relating to an inanimate object. But bear with me.)


By my totally unfounded estimate, our Canon IP2000 Inkjet Printer must have died some two years ago. This is not an anniversary or any other special date, but I thought if I don’t write something down now, I’d never do it.

No, the printer was not that special to me that I’d treat it like a pet or something. It did print brilliant pictures, as brilliant as some good inkjets other people had did, especially when we gave it good inkjet paper. And it did not misbehave more frequently than printers of similar birth and persuasion. What made it special is the way it died, suddenly, unexpectedly, with a lot of good paper waiting for it because of the untimeliness of its demise.

That day was nothing particular; not warmer or colder than usual to be remarkable, and no storms of any kind like the Chinese would like to believe that a day would be if it were to herald something significant. All I remember was that the printer refused to print after a few good nights’ sleep. It simply blinked one of its lights in a mysterious sequence, and sat there quietly.

We looked up the User’s Manual, which was never consulted with unless we, or the printer, was in trouble. It did not clear up the matter much. The mystery only deepened, as the particular explanation for that sequence of blinks is that the print head is not installed, or installed incorrectly. Now I am not confident that I can tell the print head from the print tale, but no interior parts of the printer was touched between this moment and the last time the printer printed something.

Eventually I was able to find the Service Manual of the printer on the internet (it does not come with the printer). This was not something I could download, but only to view on the website. (I did show it to my son, so at least there was one witness. A minor, though.) This document cleared up things a lot better. In it, it is stated that the same sequence of blinks can also signify, can you guess it… the end of the printer’s life.

Now this printer was not used a whole lot, as we have had a laser printer all along, longer than the inkjet. And most of our printings were of text, which the laser printer reproduced with much better clarity and endurance. But this Canon printer’s life is calculated based on a number of pages or a number of days, whichever comes first!

I felt betrayed. This is madness! They planned the printer’s death before it was sold, and never bothered to tell those who bought it! Then I felt bewildered. If the printer’s like the razor and the ink and paper are like the blades, isn’t it to the manufacturer’s advantage to let it live as long as it could? Then I felt disgusted. I don’t want to keep the product of such an evil manufacturer in my house any more! We dropped it off at Best Buy, where they have an electronics recycling program.

Soon we bought a color laser printer, of a different brand, and forgot about this Canon.


But now I realized, I cannot simply forget. At least not until I’ve written about it, told some people, and maybe asked them to share its story with even more people. Then, there is a chance that we can help others to avoid the feeling of betrayal, bewilderment or disgust its brethrens might bring. And that would be a lasting legacy that’s worthy of this printer of mine!

Now let’s get back to the title. Apoptosis is the mechanism through which an organism refreshes itself. Instead of living with aged and damaged cells, the organism lets the old and damaged cells die, and generate brand new ones in their place. The peaceful death of some cells prolongs the survival of the organism.

In the case of our Canon printer, the apoptosis is not in the sense that certain parts of it died for the good of the whole printer. No, it’s the death of one printer for the betterment of a much bigger organization, the Canon Corporation. They have decided secretly that the printer should die some time after it was bought, while as buyers we had fully expected that the printer would last its “natural” life, and nobody ever bothered to tell us otherwise! Do they understand that even though I bought a Canon printer, my action did not mean I support the survival of the Company?

That was the last Canon printer I bought. Hopefully, whoever is reading this, you’ll not buy one in the future either.

[While I cannot find the “Service Manual” any more, I was able to find a “Simplified Service Manual” on the internet. And below is a section from it.]

Page from Canon IP2000 Simplified Service Manual

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