HP sold millions of its Laserjet 1012, one of the least expensive and most reliable laser printers. It stopped making it a few years ago. Worse, it decided to obsolete the device when XP users upgraded to Windows 7. If you contact HP, you will be told "We are sorry, but the 1012 is incompatible with Windows 7. We recommend you consider purchasing one of the new HP Laserjet models", followed by a link to the HP online store.
That's called planned obsolescence. However, the printer is a piece of hardware controlled by software. Since there is nothing in the hardware to make it obsolete vis-a-vis Windows 7 (or any other operating system for that matter), the only "incompatibility" has to be with the software (i.e., the drivers). If you think that ought to be an easy problem to solve, you would be correct! Here is how to do it:
Step 1: Go to www.hp.com in your Internet browser and do a search for the file "lj1010serieshb-vista64.zip" if you are using 64-bit Windows 7 or "lj1010serieshb-vista32.zip" if you are using the 32-bit version of Windows 7. Download the appropriate file and extract (unzip) the contents to a known folder location. Plug your printer into a USB port and turn the power switch to 'on'.
Step 2: Go to the Windows 7 Control Panel and click on Devices and Printers. In the window that comes up, it may show as an Unrecognized USB Device. Regardless of what it says or how it is lableled, right-click the device. Select Properties and change to the Hardware Tab.
Step 3: Double-click the IEEE 1284.4 Printing Support line to open up its properties. Notice that all the buttons on the Driver Tab except Driver Details are grayed out.
Step 4: Click the Change Settings button on the General Tab. Now the dialog will close and reopen.
Step 5: Change to the Driver Tab again and click Update Driver.
Step 6: Click Browse my Computer for Driver Software. On the page that opens, select Let me pick from a list. Click the Browse button, navigate to the folder containing the driver files you extracted earlier and select the file hpc1015w.inf. If you have hidden file extensions, it will be the only file visible. Click on the file name, and it will install into your computer.
Step 7: Reboot your computer. When the reboot is complete, your HP 1012 printer should be fully usable. If you look at the Devices and Printers window in your Control Panel, you should see the printer depicted and labeled hp Laserjet 1012 HB.
After you are through, send the current HP CEO a nasty letter decrying the company's planned obsolescence policy. Inquire why HP didn't publish these instructions.
A Google search will turn up several stores in the San Francisco Bay area selling refurbished HP 1012 laser printers with prices ranging from $75 to $140. The icing on the cake is that the 1012 has its electromechanical "guts" built into the toner cartridge. This means that every time you replace the cartridge, you are essentially replacing most of the parts that might otherwise wear out over time. Thus, the printer will last a very long time.
There is more good news. Toner cartridges for the 1012 are super-cheap. You'll find many sellers on eBay peddling them for as little as $12.50 per cartridge with free shipping. At an average capacity of 3000 pages per cartridge, that is $.004 per page. Printing doesn't get much cheaper than that.