Re: It's all Gutenberg's fault

Subject: Re: It's all Gutenberg's fault
From: Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 17 May 1996 08:40:20 PDT

It seems to me that this example ignores the existence of cheaper editions
of manuscripts in the pre-printing-press days -- books that were created
by having a roomful of scribes take dictation from a person reading from
the original copy. These cheaper editions were favored by university
students and other scholars who were strapped for cash.

Not only that, but woodcuts predated the printing press. Etchings and
lithographs followed. Artists seemed to have little difficulty in
mastering these new media and becoming illustrators. The invention of
photolithography in the nineteenth century meant that any drawing or
painting could be transferred to plates for a printing press.

By the turn of the century, lavishly illustrated newspapers were the
norm, and copiously illustrated magazines (such as McCALL's, NATIONAL
GEOGRAPHIC, and, later, LIFE) pretty much took over the magazine business.

So where is this dearth of illustrations we hear so much about?

I would claim that there is a more recent example that's considerably
more real -- word processing in the '70s and '80s. People who latched
onto troff or RUNOFF or whatever in the '70s found that the computer could
help them create papers, manuals, and books, but left them in the lurch
as far as graphics were concerned. The explosion in text capability was
so great that many people were happy to adopt his compromise. Later,
when the graphics end started to catch up, the illustrations reappeared.
But this isn't a centuries-old phenomenon. Books printed on early
Gutenberg presses were often filled with woodcuts. What was lost was
COLOR. Color reappeared with advanced lithography in the nineteenth

-- Robert
Robert Plamondon, President/Managing Editor, High-Tech Technical Writing, Inc.
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (541) 453-5841 * Fax: (541) 453-4139

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