Please help, my printer is on fire! Solved

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    John Smith

    The smoke is very colorful.

    Please see the attached image for more information.

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    Vera Yang

    lp0 on fire (a.k.a. Printer on Fire) is a semi-obsolete error message generated on some Unix and Unix-like computer operating systems in response to certain types of printer errors. lp0 is the Unix device handle for the first line printer, but the error can be displayed for any printer attached to a Unix/Linux system. The message does not reliably indicate whether the printer in question is actually aflame.

    The “on fire” message probably originated in the late 1950s, when high speed computerized printing was still a somewhat experimental field. The first documented fire-starting printer was a Stromberg-Carlson 5000 xerographic printer (similar to a modern laser printer, but with a CRT as the light source instead of a laser), installed around 1959 at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and modified with an extended fusing oven to achieve a print speed of one page per second.

    In the event of a printing stall, and occasionally during normal operation, the fusing oven would heat paper to combustion. This fire risk was aggravated by the fact that if the printer continued to operate, it would essentially stoke the oven with fresh paper at high speed. There is, however, no evidence of the “lp0 on fire” message appearing in any software of the time.

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