The old Cricut machines were very clunky, had lots of buttons, used cartridges, and had very small cutting areas!
We can be thankful that we now have machines like the Explore Air 2 and Maker, but it can be a lot of fun taking a look back on the past.
The original machines were really targeting card makers and scrapbookers. Electronic cutting machines were fairly novel, at least among home crafters, and provided a cheaper way to do it all yourself from home.
This machine used Cricut cartridges, and you did not need a computer for it to function.
It was quite a small machine, with a very limited cutting area. It could not do highly intricate cuts, nor could it complete designs larger than 5.5 x 11 inches. The cutting mat width was only 6 inches wide, so it really was a small craft cutting machine.
The Cricut Create was the next machine put out by Cricut (also commonly known as Provo Craft back in the day).
The Create was the same size as the first Cricut machine, but there were a few changes. It has a slightly different design compared with the original machine, and has the new colors. The display screen was also improved.
Tech and design features were also improved, and it also came with an 8-way directional blade.
Most notably, this was the first Cricut with a 12 x 24 inch cutting ability, and it was better at the smaller cuts. The Expression 1 could cut a wider range of materials, including thicker items like poster board and vellum.
This machine could still be used standalone without a computer, but the software for computer use was definitely improving. The precursor to Cricut Design Space was Cricut Craft Room, and this software was in full use with the Expression.
The Cricut Imagine is unique, because it is the only one which could both print and cut. It was a Cricut printer and cutter! Besides the Imagine, you really need to have a contour cutting machine to do print and cut – we don’t know of any other machines that do this.
Cricut teamed up with HP to make a black and tri-color ink specially designed to work with the Imagine.
Unfortunately the machine wasn’t the most popular for users at the time, and it was fairly quickly discontinued, while Cricut pursued creating machines more aligned to the original.
This was the first machine which required use with a computer, and it had a smaller cutting width of 8.5 inches. This machine was pitched as a quieter, more compact, and easier to transport machine, though it was not as big a hit as the Expression series.
More differences between the Original Cricut, the Expression, Expression 2, and Mini, can been seen in this table.
This machine was literally used for decorating cakes, cookies, and cupcakes!
It could cut fondant, frosting sheets, gun paste, and more. However, we think this is another machine that didn’t really take off. How many people want to spend hundreds of dollars on a machine to cut icing? Nevertheless, it was a cool idea.
Check out the Cricut Cake Machine in action in the following video (set up to start when the machine comes into play)!
Cricut Explore One
The Cricut Explore One is the first machine that takes on the style of the modern Cricut cutting machines – looking very much like the machines all the way up to the Maker.
With the Explore One, you could find your own free fonts and SVGs, or choose from tens of thousands of design files in the Cricut Image Library. This machine better integrated with home computers, and was much easier to use.
It had storage compartments for extra blades, pens, etc., and could be used wirelessly with a Bluetooth adaptor.
Cricut Explore Air
The Explore Air was an extremely popular machine, and was the first Cricut to have a dual tool holder.
The materials that could be cut with the Air also increased, with over 60 different suggestions listed. It had built in Bluetooth, and had the SmartSet Dial for the most common settings.
While there is still a spot to insert a Cricut Cartridge – the design files are linked to your account, and you can basically do away with the cartridge after that.
Cricut marketing was also improving: see this Explore Air Overview!
Cricut Explore Air 2
The Explore Air 2 is still an incredibly popular machine, being significantly cheaper than the Maker.
This machine has most of the same functions and features as the Air, and the main difference is that it’s twice as fast. The Air 2 comes in more colors than any other as well – 22 at the time of writing!
Cricut Craft Room and the Cricut Image Library became Cricut Design Space, which has also recently made a big change in that it’s no longer browser based.
So those are all the different types of Cricut machines, from the Original Cricut to the Maker.
We hope you’ve had fun taking a look at the old Cricut machines in particular, because it is interesting to see how we got here! If you want to see the original Cricut website, visit the WayBack Machine.
The other units that we haven’t mentioned here are the EasyPress Machines. Check out these posts for that info: