Converging technologies in prepress from 1980 to 2003
2005 (English)In: Proceedings of the Technical Association of the Graphic Arts, TAGA, 2005, 238-257 p.Conference paper (Refereed)
The author suggests that there have been three paradigm shifts during the 20th century. The first shift was at the turn of the 19th and 20 th century, when the first modern typesetting technology was introduced. The new technology, the first major step since the invention of loose types by Gutenberg in the 16th century, became the most important contribution to mass market circulation of newspapers, magazines, textbooks, books and other publications during the years to come. A supervening social necessity of change was urgent, and there was no suppression from competing technologies. Previously newspapers were very thin, because the manual typesetting, which was slow and expensive, made it impossible to produce more than a few pages every day. Books and textbooks were expensive to produce, and only a minority of the population could afford to buy them. With the new technology textbooks became available for large circulations, which together with school reforms in most civilized countries quickly spread knowledge and information among their citizens. The line casting technology was more or less unchanged during the major part of the 20th century, and only a few technical changes, such as the introduction of punched paper tapes after WW II, improved the productivity. A major concern for quality was the excessive wear of the brass matrix, which made frequent and expensive maintenance necessary. In the beginning of the 1950's many attempts were made to replace the hot metals with other methods such as phototypesetting. The first attempts were more like an emulation of the line casting machines, but soon other technologies were introduced. A major step forward came when the first affordable computers were introduced on the market, such as the PDP-8 from DEC in 1964 and later the PDP-11 in 1970. Again the supervening necessity was created because the competition among publishers was extremely hard. But now there were many forces who wanted to suppress the new technology. The major force was the traditionally very strong labour unions, in particular organizing the labour in newspaper production on Fleet Street but also in Sweden and Denmark. Their influence started to diminish during the second paradigm shift and was more or less completely over a decade later. With the entrance of computerized composition systems for newspaper and other publishers the first step towards the second paradigm shift was taken. The shift was the transfer from all analogue technology in producing text (as hot metal), line works and images to a digital technology. Colour separations made by electronic drum scanners became a standard procedure during the 1970's. A major breakthrough occurred when Scitex Corp. showed the first colour page make up system (CEPS) - the Response system, which was quickly followed by other major suppliers - Dr Hell and Crosfield Electronics, both leading suppliers of digital drum scanners. The graphic art industry went digital. A supervening necessity evolved during the end of the 1980's when publishers were looking for cheaper production methods. The systems of the major suppliers were extremely expensive, and yet there was no simple technique available of exchanging digital information between different systems. The law of suppression held up the introduction of the third paradigm shift, but the Apple Mac and Adobe PostScript slowly became the major technologies in the digital age of publishing. To-day, Apple is still in the market, small but influential in the publishing world, but Adobe - the inventor of PostScript and PDF technology - is the new giant on the world market. Never before has a company had such a position in the graphic art industry. Previously, many customers were complaining about the lack of competition and industry standards in the front-end market. Now, however, Adobe has created a de facto world standard with the PDF-process, which is also backed by the ISO. A new monopoly in the front-end technology has been created by default. Never before has one single company been in a similar position in the graphic art industry. This is like falling from the frying pan into the fire! Many observers - mostly those outside the graphic art industry - believe that the next paradigm shift is imminent. The Internet might be the first paradigm shift in 21st century. The web may have a great impact on the graphic art industry, but this has yet to be proven.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2005. 238-257 p.
Analogue, Colour Scanner, Composition, Computer, Desktop, Digital, Paradigm, Postscript, Prepress, Typesetting
Media and Communications
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-13800ScopusID: 2-s2.0-33845444541OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-13800DiVA: diva2:327370
57th Annual Technical Conference of the Technical Association of the Graphic Arts, TAGA 2005, Rochester
QC 201006292010-06-292010-06-292010-11-24Bibliographically approved