Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Wayback View – My 25th Anniversary with the Apple Macintosh

Twenty-five years ago this week I bought my first Macintosh.
(click on image to enlarge)

Normal computer stores wouldn't carry it. The salesman at the Xerox store discouraged me and tried to sway me into buying a "conventional" computer – but I bought the MAC anyway. $3195 was a lot of money in 1984 when the average annual wage was around $17,000. I was a freelance commercial artist at the time and mostly used it for wordsmithing and accounting (there were no page layout programs back then). In the fall of 1984 I bought a "Thunderscan" which converted my Imagewriter dot matrix printer into a one bit scanner.
BOOM! Now MacPaint became really useful in my work. I began using its scans in my design projects. Here's a brochure I did for Quebecor/Ronalds Printing using Thunderscan images for the illustrations (click image to enlarge):
A close-up of MacPaint with one of the illustration scans used in the Quebecor brochure:
By 1985, with the introduction of the Apple Laserwriter, I could leverage the extra output resolution and quality to combine Thunderscan images with in-camera film-based special effects to produce images like this one which was used in a MacDonald Dettwiler corporate brochure:
When Microsoft Word for the MAC came out in 1985, a company called "Set and Send" in Vancouver introduced some software that allowed Word documents to drive a Compugraphic imager. This allowed me to set my own galley type – at $12 per foot of type, one text column wide and ready for paste-up. Of course I had to learn the Compugraphic formatting codes - however this innovation allowed me to eliminate outside typesetting services which was where the real profits in production occurred.

For me, this was the beginning of desktop publishing since I could create the entire document – on my desktop – with final press printed results that couldn't be distinguished from one created conventionally.

Later, in July 1985, Aldus Pagemaker was released and the rest, as they say, is history.

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