In the eighties desktop MICR printing was only
available from a few companies. The companies were Troy, Acom,
Digital Design, Accuprint and Westcorp Software Systems. Of
course Xerox had large high speed MICR printers, but they did
not see desktop MICR printing as a very large opportunity.
Troy sold an 8 page per minute Ricoh engine
printer, on-site service and supplies. They were very
successful with this MICR solution. The printer cost over
$6,000 and on-site service cost between $60 and $100 per month.
Troy was definitely a pioneer in the desktop MICR market. The
printers could all be locked with a key and secured with a font
card or cartridge.
Acom also teamed with the Ricoh engine printer
for their MICR solution in the eighties. Just like Troy and
most of the others it was a hardware driven product. They had
unique controllers to hook up to midrange computers in order to
print the MICR checks and forms. They had success with the
IBM’s AS400 users across the country had success enabling the
users to print checks directly from their midrange computer to
the MICR printers. As with Troy, the printers could all be
locked with a key and secured with a font card or cartridge.
Accuprint was also offering a printer driven
solutions, meaning there was not software to buy. They had
proprietary boards that they made securing the fonts and the
The first three companies were all based in
Southern California. Where else would this desktop MICR
revolution started? The next and last two companies that
offered MICR check printing on desktop laser printer hailed from
>Digital Designs, out of Jacksonville Florida,
was the next company with one of the best sales organizations
around. Digital Designs had a very large installation base of
MICR printers. They also had a Ricoh engine MICR printer, very
similar to the companies from California. I remember them being
very large when it came to their sales organization. They were
out to get the Fortune 1000 companies installed for distributed
MICR printing, and had huge success.
In 1989, Westcorp Software Systems introduced
the ability to print checks on a off the shelf Hewlett Packard
LaserJet II printer. The HP LaserJet II sold for $2,500 at the
time and was rated at printing 8 pages per minute. All you
needed to do was buy their check printing software package that
included software, a MICR Font Cartridge and a MICR toner
cartridge. Initially they sold their software for $500 and a
click charge per check. The click charge initially was $.15
then quickly lowered to $.05 per check. The click charge was
tracked buy a device that attached to the PC driving the
software. It was made by Rainbow Technologies and was critical
in the counting of the clicks and not attached to the PC, the
check printing software would not run. This protected Westcorp
Software from being copied for unlawful use. The AS 400 users
were not drawn to this solution as it required IBM’s PC support,
which was a very expensive product and required an extra step
for printing checks.
Westcorp soon started selling their solution
and got rid of their click charges. They sold systems for
$6,900 that included everything the customer needed excluding
the HP LaserJet II printer. This is when sales started to grow
and installation became more prolific.
That was the early days of desktop MICR
printing. In the 1990’s all of the above companies grew and a
host of competitor’s and products were introduced. As we enter
the first months of 2006, tens of thousands of companies are
printing their own checks on HP laser printers sold for less
than $200. We will see what the next 18 years bring us.
January 19, 2006
MICR Article written by John Miller, Advantage Laser Products,