This software package was first written by Michael Sweet of Easy Software Products and initially worked only as a print plugin to the GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program). In the summer of 1999, Robert Krawitz (the current Gimp-Print project leader) purchased an Epson Stylus Photo EX printer to feed his photography hobby. Finding no existing printer drivers, Robert adapted Mike's Gimp-Print plugin to his six-color printer, and by the end of the year released version 3.0 of the Gimp-Print software, which was included in version 1.1 of the GIMP. The intention was for this to be the stable plugin in version 1.2 of the GIMP while development of the Gimp-Print plugin continued for later release.
Robert put the Gimp-Print development tree on SourceForge starting with version 3.1, and quickly found a group of like-minded people who wanted to print high quality output on inexpensive inkjet printers. One of the main goals, which was not expected to be met until late in the version 3.1 cycle, was to write a Ghostscript driver so that printing would not be restricted to the GIMP. Imagine Robert's surprise when Henryk "Buggs" Richter wrote one within days!
In July 2000, not more than a year after Robert bought his Epson Stylus Photo EX, he was invited to the Linux Printing Summit hosted by VA Linux Systems. In preparation for that, he spent long hours printing out test images. Robert went back to the Gimp-Print version 3.0.9 release, which seemed like such an advance at the time, and was floored at how far the project had come in four months! Output that had been considered impressive with using six colors was put to shame by four color output. That should give you an idea what six color and variable dot size printers can do. It also illustrates what a group of committed people can do.
Robert came away from the Printing Summit with a lot of new ideas, and in November 2000, Gimp-Print version 4.0 was released, the culmination of 9 months of work by the team. The quality was already tremendously improved over what the software could do at the Printing Summit.
The team started serious work on version 4.1 in December 2000, and version 4.2.0 was released in November 2001. Despite the fact that version 4.2.0 is a "minor" release over version 4.0, there are vast improvements:
The driver is built as a shared library, making it much easier to use by higher layers of software
The packaging system now follows GNU standards
The print quality (in particular, color accuracy, a well-known weakness in 4.0) is even better
Many more options
More supported printers
Releases of Gimp-Print have been historically numbered in a fashion similar to that of the Linux kernel, where major releases are denoted by the first digit (in this case '4'), while minor releases are denoted by subsequent digits (such as '4.2.0'). Even numbered minor releases are considered stable, while odd numbered minor releases are considered development releases (whose stability may vary for any given release).
This project is by no means finished. In future releases, the development team hopes to include the following:
implementation of proper color management
improvements in performance
The entire Gimp-Print team hopes you will really enjoy using this software! For more information, please consult the GIMP-Print project web page.