Tag Archives: Throwback-Thursday

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.

A Second Look Back at My Beginnings

Illustration by Fran Davis for Nancy Haberman.

Illustration by Fran Davis for Nancy Haberman.

I was 20 years old with almost no professional work experience to my credit (unless you count selling movie theater tickets), plus I was about to become a college dropout, so I felt really lucky to have landed a job working with computers as a “computer operator trainee” and keypunch operator. 

One night about six weeks into the job, it was work as usual, just like any of the other long and lonely swing shifts, except that night there must have been a crimp in one of the punch cards. I stood alone in disbelief, while the computer belched up hundreds of cream-colored 80-column punch cards, spewing them into the room. 

They collided high in the air, pouring down all around me, leaving me knee deep in data. Eventually, the data storm tapered off and the last punch card drifted gracefully down to the gray industrial carpet. The weary Univac 9600 coughed up the sum total of its cards in the thousands, leaving me, the bewildered novice, down on the floor facing the prospect of an all-night clean-up and sorting job. 

While I was gathering up the punch cards, I recalled the time when I was five years old, and I was duped by my big sister for the umteenth time into playing this fun, new card game called “52-pickup.” I can’t even count the number of times I fell for that one. Eventually I would wise up, so she changed the name to “Round ’em up, cowgirl”—and I was sucked in again. Call me gullible.

This time a game with a new name had me picking up hundreds of cards instead of the familiar fifty-two. I straightened the cards, about the size of a business envelope, placing them all face side up, weeding out any that were bent or torn so that I could duplicate the information on them before placing them back into the mix. 

As I sat on the floor, surrounded by a blanket of cards, I set about the task of collecting, duplicating and sorting the mass of the mangled media. Silly as it might seem, I was captivated by those 80-column punchcards. That’s when I started ruminating on how all “those little holes” worked. 

This “happy” accident and the night-long salvage operation set me on on a journey into a world rich with digital information. That night back in 1971 I began my love / hate relationship with computers.

Art Imitate Life Imitates Art

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.”

A Little Macintosh History on TBT

Mohammed-AliIt was nearly 18 years ago that I had the opportunity to travel to San Francisco MacWorld ’98 where I met Mohammed Ali. The former Apple Master and Faculty member was already dealing with Parkinson’s Disease at the time. Still he stood and shook my hand, and graciously allowed me to photograph him with his son munching on goodies in the background.

The late 80’s and 90’s were certainly exciting times for Apple Computer, Inc., if not somewhat volatile with Steve Jobs leaving Apple and later returning to the helm. There was an ongoing technology debate through the late 80’s and 90’s : Mac vs. PC, a debate perhaps as volatile as religious or political debates get—that’s how confident were each platform’s users.

Press-badgeThat particular conference year was a turning point for me. It was time to learn the workings of e-commerce and web design—no more putting it off. But in the meantime, I decided to explore the interactive capabilities of Acrobat, with everything I needed to make an interactive newsletter with recorded sound and video.

Gregory-HinesI purchased a CD with all of the recordings that were presented at the conference by the Apple Masters: Actress, Jennifer Jason Leigh; dancer, Gregory Hines, and many more.

Standing at the foot of the stage, I was just a few feet away, as Hines tapped out his personal history using Apple’s “Mac,” as he referred to it. He started with an unnaturally slow click…click…click, and as he told he story of periodic upgrades, the clacking became louder and faster, until he could snap, clack, and tap no louder, faster or longer. Just Wow!

Important documents need protective packaging

Apple, Inc. sponsored ad for Educom '87If it’s Thursday, it must be throwback time.

While today, so much of our news is digital, electronic, and fleeting, all the more reason to protect your tangible items like photos, newspapers, cherished greeting cards and other important documents in clear protective bags. We don’t have any minimums on the quantity you order, and that can help you save money, especially on the larger size bags. No matter what size you need, you can order 3, 300 or 3000.

Order your bags today, and don’t forget to take advantage of a variety of ways to save on Oak Creek coupons.

Spring is in the air, at least in some parts of the world and that means time to go through the flat files and drawers where we might find newspaper clippings, photos and other important documents. Performing this ritual, I found an accumulation of documents needing protection before decaying into yellow dust. Luckily, the older documents, like this Los Angeles Times article about Educom ’87, have long been comfortably nestled in clear plastic bags designed especially for protection, preservation and display.

The first time I worked as a consultant to Apple Computer, Inc. was in 1987 when I was one of a 3-person team hired to design and produce a daily print newspaper for the Educom ’87 international conference for higher education. For this purpose, the company Desktop Design was born, and John Grzywacz-Gray, Roger Karraker and I named our team Piece o’ Cake Productions.

Our 5-day mission was to demonstrate Apple’s cutting edge technology to university educators from around the globe by producing a daily “On-the-Spot” newspaper covering the conference. Each morning we delivered a new edition to the conference floor. To our knowledge no one had ever done this before. We were making “desktop” history. For the next three years, our Piece o’ Cake team consulted and worked with Apple, Inc. to introduce new technology to educators. Apple, Inc. sponsored ad for Educom '87 .

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!

Jumpin’ on the Throwback Thursday Bandwagon

Reporter's First Place WinI thought the day would never come when I would start posting old photos, but here I am in 2014, and mysteriously, this 30-year old gem rose to the top of my flat files.

For weeks I’ve been seeing Throwback Thursday images sneak into my Facebook and LinkedIn feeds. Old photos continue to pop up, so what’s the point of making the excuse that all my photos are old? Of course they’re all old—it’s just a matter of degree.

Throwback Thursday can really take you back. The photo I chose to post shows me being hoisted by the Three Bearded Men early in my Photojournalism education.

While Editor-In-Chief of The Reporter, Moorpark College’s student-published newspaper, our staff grabbed a First Place General Excellence trophy at the Journalism Association of Community Colleges southern California conference.

That was the spring of ’84 when journalists were still using typewriters, film cameras, Compugraphic Editwriters and the old process camera.

Just one year later in the spring of ’85 Apple introduced the LaserWriter, the first desktop “type and image setting” machine, changing My World and The World forever.