I was born in 1984, just a year before PageMaker was introduced on the first line of Macintosh computers. It wasn’t until I was in art school 25 years later studying design that I realized how truly remarkable digital processing was for graphic designers and publishers.
As a kid, I took it for granted that there was always a means of mass producing text and imagery. Not knowing the specifics of how that production actually worked, I figured if the ancient Egyptians had scrolls, that my magazines were nothing to get overly excited about. Oh how wrong I was.
After learning about the history of print techniques and how traditional graphic designers worked prior to the digital revolution, I immediately regretted not holding on to all of my uncle’s old surfing and skateboarding magazines from the 70’s and 80’s. The pages were crafted, literally, with film and acid, emulsions, intricate cuts of paper, ink and glue… I wonder (doubt) that I’d still be a designer had I been born 30 years earlier.
Scientific American magazine turns 171 years old this month, making it the oldest continuously running publication in the United States. They’ve put together an awesome article chronicling their part in the evolution of print since their inception. There’s a print from the very first volume published, a series of illustrations showing the process of creating cover art, and a video with former Art Director, Ed Bell talking about the beginnings of desktop publishing. Read it here.