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Model Information

[Canon LBP-8 Mark III printer]

Model Data
Model NumberLBP-8 Mark III
Introduction DateApril 1989
Original MSRPMark III: $2,495
8IIT: $3,295
8IIR: $3,795
Replaces ModelLBP-8 II
Replaced by ModelLBP-8 Mark III Plus
LBP-8 Mark IIIT Plus
LBP-8 Mark IIIR Plus


In mid 1989, Canon replaced the LBP-8II printers with the LBP-8 Mark III series. The Mark III printers were initially more expensive than their 8II predecessors. The suggested list price of the LBP-8 Mark was $2,995, the LBP-8 Mark IIIT was $3,995, and the LBP-Mark IIIR was $4,495. In April of 1990, the prices were lowered to $2,495, $3,295, and $3,795 respectively.

The Mark III printers represented a significant upgrade in the Canon product line. The printing engines were still the tried and true SX, TX, and RX, with minor revisions and improvements, but the controller boards were quite different. The LBP-8II printers were not selling well in the U.S. market and Canon needed to improve its brand-name products in order to capture market share with the Canon label. The older LBP-8II was technically superior in many ways to its cousin the HP LaserJet series II, but HP's marketing team beat Canon to the software houses and got drivers written first. In the end, HP got about 80% percent market share and Canon brand got almost nothing in the U.S. market. (Still, Canon virtually owns the desktop laser market through their OEM customers HP, Apple, QMS, and others.)

The advertising theme for the Mark III was "Fast and Fancy." At the time Canon designed the Mark III, dealers believed the primary reason people paid extra for PostScript was to get scalable type. Since PostScript was considered to be slow and people wanted to print faster, Canon may have reasoned that a printer that could scale type and print fast would become a very hot product. Canon surely didn't want to be simply another Adobe licensee. That wouldn't have been a leadership role, and Canon would appear to be stepping squarely on the toes of its second and third best customers (Apple and QMS).

Canon's solution was to develop its own printer language. Canon understood that software support was crucial, so when the product was ready Canon went to the major PC software houses and paid them to write drivers that could take advantage of the Mark III's scalable type and graphics capabilities. Canon called the new printing language CaPSL, short for (Canon Printing System Language).

Not stopping at merely providing scalable type, Canon included a bundle of fancy graphics operators called VDM (Virtual Device Metafile) to produce some of the special effects that, until then, only PostScript printers and a few esoteric printers could produce.

Technically, the Mark III is an excellent product. Canon modernized the aesthetics by changing the shape of the front cover and by improving the look and feel of the control panel. Canon also updated the color by abandoning its over-used vanilla beige for a more contemporary battleship gray. Canon marketed the product with a lavish advertising campaign. Gorgeous ads regularly appeared in all of the big computer magazines.

Canon also gave distributors deep discounts to help the Mark III grab market share. The driver software was written and Canon gave it away free to purchasers of the Mark III family or the LBP-4 (which also uses CaPSL). To boost sales, free font cards were given away with every printer. For less than the price of an HP II, the buyer got almost all of the functionality of a PostScript printer plus faster print speed than most PostScript printers. It seems that Canon did everything right with this one. And now there's even a reasonably priced upgrade to PostScript.

Yet the Mark III flopped in the U.S. market. Probably the main reason is that it is not HP compatible. Most Mark III users don't actually need HP compatibility, because Canon managed to get drivers written for the most popular programs. Yet the Mark III didn't sell because people still think they must be HP compatible or things just won't work right.

Another reason the Mark III fizzled is timing. It came too late to establish itself as a standard for scalable type printing. In the publishing world, if it's not PostScript it's not compatible. The Mark III, then, isn't acceptable as a general-purpose printer for PCs because it doesn't have HP emulation; and it's unacceptable in the publishing world because it cannot create proofs for PostScript-equipped imagesetters.

The PostScript cartridge solves one of the two compatibility problems for the Mark III, but the cost becomes prohibitively high compared to other PostScript printers on the market. Even if the PostScript cartridge had come out earlier, the Mark III would probably still have been a flop. Before the release of Microsoft's Windows 3.0, the PostScript market for PCs was very small. In 1989, when the Mark III was introduced, most of the PostScript printers sold were used with Macs. The Mark III can be used with the Mac by installing a custom driver from GDT SoftWorks, but the interface is via RS-232 to a single Mac and the printer cannot be shared on the AppleTalk network. Because of this, much of the PostScript functionality that Mac users expect is not available.

The technically excellent Mark III was too expensive and slow for the rapidly growing PostScript printer market for PCs, and it never achieved the U.S. market share it seemed to deserve. However, a few applications were written that require these printers and the demand for those left has increased somewhat, creating a certain niche for them in the marketplace.


The set of fonts that Canon chose for the Mark III was borrowed from the Adobe design for the first PostScript laser printer, the Apple LaserWriter. Adobe chose three classic typefaces: Helvetica, Times-Roman and Courier, plus a Symbol Set. These included the bold, oblique, and bold-oblique variations to give the printer a total of 13 scalable typefaces. The Mark III comes standard with Swiss (which is a Helvetica clone), Dutch (which is a Times-Roman clone), and Courier (which is a public domain typeface), and the same set of symbols as the Apple LaserWriter. These three typefaces in their four variations (standard, bold, italic, and bold italic) plus the symbols set comprise the same basic resident font library that comes with virtually all PostScript printers.

For the LaserWriter Plus, Adobe added ITC Avant Garde, Helvetica Narrow, Palatino, ITC Zapf Chancery, ITC Zapf Dingbats, New Century Schoolbook, and ITC Bookman. Likewise, when the Scalable Font Card (SC-1) is added to the Mark III, the printer has ITC Avant Garde, Swiss Narrow, ITC Zapf Chancery, ITC Zapf Dingbats, Century Schoolbook, and Zapf Calligraphic. Adobe's Palatino is basically identical to the Mark III's version of Zapf Calligraphic.

LBP-8 Mark III Font Cards

The Bitmap font cards for the Canon Mark III are combinations of the older font cartridges used in the LBP-8A and LBP-8II product lines. Canon neatly condensed the 12 older bitmap font cartridges into 3 smaller bitmap font cards. These font cards are also compatible with the LX-based Canon LBP-4. The scalable font card that adds all of the fonts necessary to emulate an Adobe Plus set are included in the SC-1.


The LBP-8 Mark III series has been discontinued, but The Printer Works can build them from parts at special request. Refurbished printers are in like-new condition and come with a Six-Month Warranty. For a price quote, select the printer's part number in the ordering information table.

Controller Notes

Model Information | Supplies and Accessories | Ordering Information | Text Only

[LBP-8 Mark III and Mark IIIR Controllers, with interface board]

Controller Specifications
Controller Part NumberMark III/IIIT: SG4-4150-000
Mark III Plus: RG1-2841-000
Interface Part NumberMark III/IIIT/IIIR:
Mark III Plus:
Design Similar toLBP-4
Std. EmulationsCaPSL III, Diablo 630 ECS
Opt. EmulationsEpson FX, IBM Proprinter, HP-GL, Adobe PostScript
Emulation BrandCanon
CPU & Clock RateNS32CG16 32 Bit Microprocessor @15 MHz
Bitmap Resolution (max)300 X 300
Mark III Plus: Yes
Base RAM1.5 Megabyte
Max RAM4.5 Megabytes
Font Cartridges2 Slots, IC Card Size
Control Panel TypeFull Function with 16 Char. LCD & Bell
Standard InterfacesRS-232, Centronics Parallel
Optional InterfacesAppleTalk

Canon has always designed brilliant controllers that were expandable and flexible. These characteristics contributed to the fabulous success of the HP II, which supported a wealth of useful add-on options. In the case of the HP II, sales of RAM, font cartridges, emulation cartridges, soft fonts, sharing devices and custom host interfaces created additional revenue for HP as well opportunities for many small start-up companies. Ultimately these add-ons increased sales of the basic product, which helps Canon's sales of engines, parts and toners.

In general, an expandable architecture costs more than a fixed design (i.e. one that can never have more RAM, ROM, or other interfaces added). As a result, all users end up paying for expandability even if they never use it. For the Mark III, Canon came up with a modular approach that allows excellent expandability with minimum cost burden for the basic unit. The base model, however, is quite sophisticated.

The picture above shows the two boards that constitute the basic Mark III controller. Notice that the main CPU board is separated from the I/O board. This allows I/O boards with interfaces for different types of computers to be substituted rather than added. The central CPU has 8 connections. Going around the board in a clockwise direction, starting in the top left corner, there are two IC card slots for fonts or emulations, a RAM/ROM expansion bus, the host interface bus, the video I/O bus, power and ground connections, the DC controller port, and the control panel interface. Interestingly, the Canon Mark III and Mark IIIT use the same controller board and firmware. Commands to feed from the second paper tray are ignored if it isn't there. The IIIR board is the same except for different firmware.

The standard I/O board features Centronics parallel and RS-232 serial ports. The Mark III, Mark IIIR, and IIIT all use the same I/O board. For OEM custom versions, this board could be substituted for one that contains circuity for one of the many network protocols that use coax connectors.

Mark III Expansion RAM and ROM

Canon Mark III Expansion RAM Cards

Mark III printers come with 1.5 MB of RAM on the mother board, so there is already enough memory for full page graphics, font downloading and forms overlays. Additional RAM can be added with factory expandable RAM cards. These RAM cards have a socket for a chip that is needed when the PostScript option is installed. The basic PostScript option comes with an expansion card with the socketed chip but no RAM installed. In theory, one could solder RAM to this card to get the 1 MB, 2 MB, or 3 MB expansion. Canon also designed a ROM card for additional firmware, but the Mark III models do not use it.

Expansion Video Interface VD-1

Canon Mark III Series Video Interface VD-1 PCBA

A video interface is available that allows external controllers direct access to the video interface and control of the printer. With this card installed, the Mark III printer is compatible with the QMS JetScript. The optional video interface is pictured here.

Supplies and Accessories

Model Information | Controller Notes | Ordering Information | Text Only
You can check prices or order these items from the ordering information table below.


The Canon LBP-8 Mark III series uses the same toner cartridges as all other SX-based printers.


The Canon LBP-8 Mark III printers use the same shaped paper trays and high-capacity feeders as all other SX-based printers. All versions are physically interchangeable, but there are slight color differences. (See also Diagram 300.)


Mark III printers come with 1.5 MB of RAM on the mother board. Additional RAM can be added with factory expandable RAM cards. These RAM cards have a socket for a chip that is needed when the PostScript option is installed. The basic PostScript option comes with an expansion card with the socketed chip but no RAM installed. In theory, one could solder RAM to this card to get the 1 MB, 2 MB, or 3 MB expansion.


Printers in the Canon LBP-8 Mark III family are excellent products as shipped, but they need HP emulation or PostScript to be compatible with many mainstream applications. A memory-resident program from Metro Software, called LaserTwin, can convert HP LaserJet commands into Canon commands. A recently released product called TwinCart provides HP emulation in a cartridge. The most economical path to PostScript for a Mark III owner is to purchase the Canon-made Adobe PostScript upgrade kit. If PostScript is not needed, the scalable font cards are excellent for adding more fonts.

The optional video interface board is the best way to use controllers like the QMS JetScript. LaserMaster and DP-Tek have their own video interface cards for connection of their controllers, so users planning to upgrade to one of these controllers need not purchase the Canon-built video interface.

Conversion to other types of internal controllers, such as the QMS-PS 810 series boards, is a little messy, because the cover must be changed to accomodate a different type of control panel.

For improved resolution on the Mark III, Canon has introduced a new controller, the Mark III Plus, that features IRT (Image Refinement Technology). This controller is an excellent upgrade for the installed base of Mark III printers.

Ordering Information

Model Information | Controller Notes | Supplies and Accessories | Text Only
For price and ordering information or to place the item in your shopping cart,
select a Part Number in the table.
Part NumberDescription
R61-0252 Printer, Canon LBP-8 Mark III 110/115V 50/60Hz
R61-0255 Printer, Canon LBP-8 Mark III 220/240V 50Hz
R61-8062 Printer, Canon LBP-8 Mark IIIT 110/115V 50/60Hz
R61-8065 Printer, Canon LBP-8 Mark IIIT 220/240V 50Hz
R61-5062 Printer, Canon LBP-8 Mark IIIR 110/115V 50/60Hz
R61-5065 Printer, Canon LBP-8 Mark IIIR 220/240V 50Hz
RG1-2841-000Controller, Canon LBP-8 Mark III Plus
SG5-4150-000Controller, Canon LBP-8 Mark III/IIIT
SG5-4151-000Controller, Canon LBP-8 Mark III/IIIR/IIIT
SG5-4155-000Interface, Parallel/Serial, Canon LBP-8 Mark III/IIIR/IIIT
S63-2340-000Memory Card, Canon, for LBP-8 Mark III, 1 Megabyte
S63-2350-000Memory Card, Canon, for LBP-8 Mark III, 2 Megabytes
S63-2360-000Memory Card, Canon, for LBP-8 Mark III, 3 Megabytes
R63-1026-002Manual, Canon 8II Programmers, CaPSL 1 V2
R63-1027-002Manual, Canon 8II Programmers, CaPSL 2 V2
R63-1028-002Manual, Canon 8II Programmers, CaPSL 3 V2
S63-2370-000FC, ScriptCard PS-1 Adobe PS for LBP-8 Mark III
S63-2290-000FC, CN BM-1 for LBP-8 Mark III, Dutch 801P, Swiss 721P, Humanist 601P, Century 702P
S63-2300-000FC, CN BM-2 for LBP-8 Mark III, Dutch 801L, Swiss 721L, Humanist 601L, Century 702L
S63-2310-000FC, CN BM-3 for LBP-8 Mark III, LinePrinter P/L, Pica 10 P/L, Elite 12 P/L, Garland PS P/S
S63-2330-000FC, CN SC-1 for LBP-8 Mark III and LBP-4

Model Information
| Controller Notes | Supplies and Accessories | Text Only

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