In 1984, I was working in a prepress plant, laboring over traditional cold (or photo-based) typesetting equipment. Instead of looking at a true representation of the printed page, the video display presented text and formatting commands. Yes, with a little practice, you could visualize the end result, more or less. However, these particular devices simply couldn’t render a graphical image. It was, as I recall, strictly white text on a dark, nearly black background.
This isn’t to say personal computers were that much better in those days. In fact, we had one, a Zenith that, in part, would serve as a proper PC clone, but was actually used primarily to translate data from one format to another. That way, our clients could submit documents created in a word processor, and we could convert them into the unique language used by our Agfa CompuGraphic front ends.
It sure beat retyping everything from scratch.
When it came to actually using PC software, however, that old Zenith was only partly successful. Not all of those PC clones were 100% compatible; some not even close. But there was one area where that old box pleased me no end, the result of the decision of the owner of the company to subscribe to CompuServe.
They were king of the online hill in those early days. Its text-based interface was a little rough, but usable. But don’t ask me how much all that online access cost. Remember that you paid by the hour in those days, and I was positively addicted. But I got the work out on time, so there were no complaints.
As to the Apple Macintosh, we acquired one of the first, used primarily for experimentation rather than production. So my exposure was limited, and I didn’t really get fully immersed in the Mac universe until I moved to another company, where they actually migrated a large portion of their production to the desktop.
Story continued in this week’s Tech Night Owl Newsletter.
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