Category Archives: Graphic Design

Digital Beginnings – The New Technology

Thunderscan

Combine the capabilities of the ThunderScan 72ppi monochrome scanner with Apple Computer, Inc.’s brand new Apple LaserWriter, what you get is a far superior product for the new era’s “desktop publisher.”

The technology was brand new and not yet perfected, but I knew immediately that this was what I had been waiting for, preparing for, and drawn to since the field trip to the Bank of America corporate headquarters twenty-some-odd years earlier in the 1960s. 

The year was 1985 when my photojournalism instructor suggested computers and printers could be used for more than creating the crude graphic images of the ’70s. It was spring, and Apple Computer, Inc. had just introduced their first Laser Printer boasting an incredible 300 dots per inch resolution.

ThuderScan-cats

The ThunderSsan was not a grayscale scanner and could only produce the appearance of a halftone. Consider that the only image editing software at the time was Apple’s MacPaint, a 72dpi monochrome (black and white) gem of a starter program for a personal computer user in 1985.

The demonstration took place in a room seating about 50 people. It was during this presentation I learned that the computer could be used as a typesetting machine, a process camera, and a drafting table all in one, and one could buy a printer that could output type and graphics at high enough resolution to be reproduced on a printing press with excellent quality. All that and it would all fit on a desktop.

On the ride home my instructor engaged me in conversation and we discussed the potential of this revolutionary combination of hardware and software, which completely turned the traditional graphics design and production workflow on its head.  Instead of contracting one vendor for type galleys, a second for camera work and then cutting everything apart and pasting it up on boards, a graphic designer could output the laser prints from home (or more precisely, from the corner of one’s bedroom) on a single 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper and hand the layouts off to the printer for reproduction.

This Macintosh, ThunderScan, LaserWriter combo was as big in 1985 as was the mind-blowing Macintosh in 1984. Count me in.

The LaserWriter filled the roles of both typesetting and process camera with its debut in 1985.

The LaserWriter filled the roles of both typesetting and process camera with its debut in 1985.

Letterpress Alive and Well in the Age of Computers

Grandpa-UncleLou

One might say printing, design, typography; all are in my blood. My grandfather in the rear left is the pit boss in this 1930s era print shop. My mother was a proofreader, and my uncle, rear right also worked in the shop and later became a Linotype operator at the Chicago Sun Times. He retired in the 1960s after the paper adopted cold type.

Computers were not for my Uncle Lou. But they were, and are for me, which is why we do all our greeting card printing on short run digital “presses.” Nonetheless, the art and craft of letterpress is not dead, as we learn in Print Magazine’s recent feature, “The Letterpress Journals: Guardians of the Craft.”

Following the Dream on Throwback Thursday

back-to-school

Very few people understood what we Mac Fanatics were up to in 1987 (let alone 1985), but I was following my dream of designing and printing from the desktop. The following month I made the business official and called myself Desktop Design. Today is little Joey’s 36th birthday. He currently works for Disney Studios as a Global Analyst. Happy Birthday, Joey!