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Zebra Label Printers @ Microsoft

Published: Thursday, September 15, 1994 written by Drew Jackson


back in 1993, the vendor Zebra arrived at Microsoft to ask us to try the Zebra label printers. An amazing evolution occurred.


 
Back in 1993, a man by the name of Ernie came to into my area at Microsoft manufacturing called software replication and he ended up leaving a Zebra 90 label printer on my desk for 3 months.
 
At first, I just looked at it sitting on the corner of my desk for a few months, and he would stop by and ask if I had tried it. Being so busy with so much programming, I had not. His personal life was a professional ski diver, and that was not without some dangers. Another few weeks passed and I tried some test printing, and then I decided it was time to really read the specifications on this product. In 30 days, I wrote the Zebra printer driver using their ZPL language and with the help of a few of their developers, they fixed a few details in their specifications and language that was buggy, and then I ended up wrap the driver around our label printing subsystem in software replication cell. 
 
Voila! One label printer become more of a hit than anyone realized. After 15 days of tests and tweaking, we had a winner.  The rest was history.
 
We justified the $4 million project with an ROI of 3 months, and bam! Approved. 10 each Zebra 90 label printers purchased, and 4 each Zebra 140 label printers purchased to replace the OTC continuous laser label printers that had nothing but downtime and repairs, wasted labels and lots of toner everywhere. Mind you, the label quality produced was the best of its time and no other continuous laser label printer was out there to be used.
 
Labels West was our label supplier and after we got the Zebra printer driver working and integrated, we saved millions per year. The contract for the ribbons were a savings too.
 
What a story. Vicki their VP of Sales made a special trip out, Ernie was a hero, and Microsoft enjoyed the savings, quality, speed and application. Zebra even had Microsoft in their annual report and came and did a photo shoot in our facility showcasing 3.5" diskettes and the printing system.

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