A printer port is a hardware interface for connecting a printer to a computer. In the early days of
personal computers, printers had to be connected directly to the main body of the computer through a
printer port. This interface was part of a communication protocol that allowed software programs and
various kinds of printing hardware (dot-matrix, ink jet, laser, etc.) to understand one another.
Technological advances soon introduced the concept of a virtual printer port. A virtual printer port uses
software to add a level of abstraction to printer connections. In other words, software emulates the
printer port. This has two significant consequences.
First, printers can be "virtual". Obviously, they can be physical devices made of plastic and metal that
apply ink or toner to paper, but printers can also be software programs that implement the printing
protocol and "connect" to the printer using a virtual printer port.
Second, printers can be located anywhere. That is, you don't need to set up a printer on the desk next
to your computer. A virtual printer port can redirect print jobs created on a computer in your bedroom
to a network printer in the den ? or the office, or the other side of the world for that matter. Of course,
the print jobs don't have to go far either. For example, a virtual printer uses a virtual printer port to
generate electronic files, such as PDFs, on the hard drive of the computer on which it is installed.
Some of the ports available on a computer can be seen in the screenshot below. The selected printer is
installed as a network printer and is connected to the computer through a virtual printer port.
See also: Virtual Printer
, PDF Server
, PDF SDK