Printer Command Language

What Does Printer Command Language Mean?

Printer Command Language (PCL) is a page description language (PDL) that is specially developed to offer efficient and effective control of printer features among various printing devices. Hewlett-Packard developed this language for dot matrix and inkjet printers in 1984 to make it easy for the computer to communicate with digital printers. A number of versions have been released since then to offer compatibility with various models of printers.


Techopedia Explains Printer Command Language

PCL generates commands that are usually escape codes which have been embedded in the print job before they are sent to the printer for a specific action. The commands are generally easy to understand as compared to high-level language commands or assembler code. The language is common for different modules, but not universally the same, and newer versions are not compatible with the older models. A number of levels or versions have been released depending on the type of printers and features have. This Printer Command Language has earned HP a huge success.

PCL is sometimes mistakenly thought to be an abbreviation for Printer Control Language, which is not the same, but another term related to page description language.


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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…