What Is Firmware?

Firmware can often be explained as software that is embedded in a piece of hardware. But why would you want to do that? Essentially firmware contained on a piece of hardware provides a control program/set of instructions for the hardware.

Examples of firmware would be the wash cycle instructions on a washing machine or the channel frequencies on your TV remote.

Hardware like these do not require updating by the manufacturer as the settings never change. But when it comes to devices like DVD players and PC printers, new features or bug fixes can be applied to the device by “updating” the hardware.

For example, when Apple introduced its AirPrint technology, Canon updated its printer firmware so that many of its older WiFi printers could support it.

Users could simply head on over to the Canon support website, select their printer make and model and then follow the instructions to download and install the updated firmware.

Do I Need To Update My Canon Printer Firmware?

Not unless you have been advised to by Canon. Unlike printer drivers, printer firmware is very rarely (if ever) updated and should only be installed under advice from Canon.

Firmware updates can cause problems with compatible Canon cartridges being reported as ‘not recognised’ by the printer. In recent years at least one printer manufacturer is thought to have released a firmware update intended to prevent third-party cartridges from working.

The Canon printer support page is available at:


Factoid: The term “firmware” was first coined by the computer pioneer Ascher Opler, in an article he wrote way back in 1967 for the then popular computer magazine: Datamation. Until then the concept had been explained by the term “microcode” and is still used by some engineering purists!

You Might Also Like To Read:

Introducing HP ePrint
Inkjet or Laser Printing: Which is More Cost Effective?
Printing With Fire Instead Of Ink
What Does the Weight of Paper Mean?
Ink Cartridges: Original, Compatible or Recycled?
HP PageWide Technology
Printer Maintenance Tips

marc liron

As an IT industry expert (and Microsoft MVP 2004-2010) Marc Liron loves to write about technology and gadgets. On this blog he hopes to write the kind of articles that customers will both find helpful and informative. If you have an idea for an article then please get in touch!

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