Based in Palo Alto CA, Hewlett Packard has been making inkjet printers for the home and office use since 1988. Over the course of 22 years in the business, this corporation quickly became the most powerful inkjet printer manufacturer in the industry.

The first inkjet cartridges were large both in size and ink capacity but the machines that used them were more costly than the ones being made today.

Over the years, the business of selling printers changed from selling rugged and expensive printers to disposable, cheap machines only intended to last a fraction of the time.

In this new model of selling, printers were usually sold at a discounted rate and in some cases, at a loss in order to gain market share with consumers.

The new strategy of releasing low cost, printers really came into vogue in the late part of 2005 with printers selling for as little as $49, which proved alluring to new buyers.

Since little to no money was made on the printers, the emphasis on cartridge profitability was paramount to this business strategy.

In 2005, HP released a new series of inkjet cartridges and printers that use it. This new model the “HP 21” (C9351AN) black ink cartridge was a completely new approach to the business of selling printers and cartridges.

Prior to the HP 21, previously released standard black inkjet cartridges varied in size but generally shrank in ink volume over time.

From the peak of value found in the 42-ml (milliliter) HP 45-(51645) cartridge made in the late 1990’s, to the HP 56 (C6656AN) cartridge with a modest 19ml volume in 2004, ink volume per cartridge kept shrinking.

In fact, the ink cartridges shrank at an average rate of about 1-ml of ink per year from 1988 to 2004. Then in 2005, ink volume and value plummeted from 19 ml in the HP 56, to 5ml in the new standard HP 21 cartridge.

This was the smallest volume ink cartridge ever made by HP up to this point but was necessary to subsidize the up front low cost of the printers.

HP DeskJet 3920:
Released in 2005
Average retail price $39.00
Cartridges used: HP 21 and HP 22

The HP 21 was most commonly used in conjunction with the Tri color cartridge HP 22 (C9352AN). While the HP 22 was a color cartridge that worked with the HP 21, this cartridge contained cyan, magenta, yellow ink. The cartridge was no bigger than the HP21 and also sported a meager 5-ml ink volume total, which was divided up between the 3 colors in the reservoir.

In 2006, HP introduced some models of printers that could use the standard HP 21 and HP 22 cartridges or a new cartridge to be known as a “photo” cartridge.

The HP #58 (C6658AN) was a “photo” cartridge intended for use only printing photos in some specific machines.

DeskJet D2330: Released in June 2006
Average retail price $39.00
Cartridges used: HP 21 and HP 22 or HP 58

Photo cartridge was used in conjunction with the standard color HP 22 cartridges.
The “photo” cartridges installed in the black cartridge holder, not the color cartridge holder.

The HP 58 cartridges contain black, light cyan, and light magenta. Standard color cartridges contain cyan, magenta, and yellow, a photo cartridge gives the printer a total of 6 palette colors rather than the standard 4, which make it easier to replicate more colors in the spectrum when used together.

These printers did not require the photo cartridge to print photos but the photo cartridge did improve the appearance of subtle color shades for more professional looking prints.

In 2007, HP started releasing printers that could use the HP 21 with an option of using a higher capacity black cartridge. The new cartridge was the HP 54 (CB334AN) which contained a healthy 20ml of ink and a higher asking price at the retail level but the value was better than the HP 21 cartridge.

During this same time, select HP inkjet printers allowed for a higher capacity color cartridge to be used with the printers that were designed for the HP 21 and HP 22. These new printers had the ability to use an older and larger color cartridge – the HP 57 (C6657AN). Notice the larger average selling price for the printers that have the option for the larger cartridges.

DeskJet F4140: Released in April 2007
Sold Through Wal-Mart Stores or Directly from Hewlett Packard
Average retail price $78.00
Cartridges used: HP 21 and HP 22 or HP 54 or HP 57

The cartridges were a welcome additional choice for those who owned this printer since you could use a larger black (20ml) and color (17ml). Only a few printer models were released that could use these larger cartridges and it soon disappeared as an option on newer models.

In March 2008, HP stopped providing a larger size cartridge options for any printers that used the HP 21 and HP 22 cartridges. The last model released was the Officejet J3600.

OfficeJet J3600: Released in March 2008
Average retail price $99.00
Cartridges used: HP 21 and HP 22 or HP 54

By the end of 2009, HP stopped releasing printers that use the HP 21 and HP 22 cartridges. The last printer that used the HP 21 and HP 22 cartridges was the DeskJet F2280 (mostly used in Europe).

DeskJet F2280: Released in March 2009
Average retail price $99.00
Cartridges used: HP 21 and HP 22

For 4 years, Hewlett Packard manufactured new inkjet printers using the HP 21 (amongst others), one of the longest runs for any model of ink cartridge.