A digital retrospective
December 11, 2009 by Michael
The digital world of printing effectively began in 1973. The first computer typesetters were hybrids of previous photocomposition machines and pure digital output. They operated on dedicated command languages which were not able to handle graphics. Also, they had their own formats and fonts.
This first phase lasted until about 1983. By the late 1980s PostScript had emerged as the standard for digital typesetting. Apple had a big influence on this with the introduction of the Apple Leserwriter printer, which offered powerful graphics handling.
Digital innovation continued at a pace throughout the1990s. Mac and Windows continually developed and improved digital machines. Desktop publishing had become commonplace for both businesses and individuals. Consequently, some print work was taken in-house. The traditional shape of the commercial printing industry experienced rapid change. Unfortunately, some, even large print companies, failed to make the transition to digital successfully and ceased to exist.
However, by the late 1990s new markets had emerged, for example, printed vinyl graphics, and full wrap around application. New smart ink technology offered new possibilities for printing companies in the new millennium. This sort of development could now pave the way for a whole new range of previously unimagined printed products.
Print companies represent the sharp end of changes in industry due to digital advances. It can be difficult to know when to invest in new machinery. Print is an industry sector which can, and will, take advantage of new digital possibilities on offer. Maybe the digital infrastructure has just about reached completion and the next phase is indeed smart material technology.