Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Wayback View – March 1985, Apple introduces LaserWriter

Twenty five years ago, in February 1985, Linotype and Apple announced a joint agreement enabling the Macintosh to send text and graphics to a laser typesetter. The next month (March) Apple shipped its first $7,000 300 dpi office LaserWriter. It was driven by a new language called "PostScript" that had been developed by a small, relatively unknown company called Adobe Systems Inc.

The revolution had begun. However, not everyone was convinced as the challenge in this newspaper article reveals.

Click on image to enlarge

Betty Handly, was probably not aware of the inventive ways that people were already starting to use the Mac and LaserWriter combination for. As just one example, I had set up the prepress production department for a 28 page weekly newspaper "Prince Rupert This Week" by using a combination of Manhattan Graphics Inc.'s Ready, Set, Go! page layout program (later acquired by Letraset), Cricket Draw to handle the special graphics, and an Apple LaserWriter to generate the camera-ready artwork.Using the LaserWriter output for camera-ready art meant that the type smoothed out enough to eliminate the low resolution "jaggies." It also meant that the publisher did not have to purchase the significantly more expensive traditional option of a Linotype machine or a laser filmsetter.

In fact, if it wasn't for the introduction of the Mac and LaserWriter combination, the newspaper would never have been financially feasible to publish in the first place.

Betty Handly went on to create a typesetting business, the 'Type Gallery' which subsequently failed and went into bankruptcy in October 1992. In November 1992 she became involved in a new typesetting business called Centerpoint Prepress, Inc. - a typesetting business which also ran into financial difficulties and ceased operations. Betty Handly managed the company's business activities and was paid $16.50 per hour for her services.

The International Typographical Union has not fared much better as a result of the general elimination of the typographers' trade due to automation, computers and mechanization. The remnants of the union membership are in the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

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