One of the greatest inventions that humanity has seen is Guttenberg’s printing press. The press revolutionized the way we disseminate information, the way we visualize, learn and conceive information. The public educational system was one of the early adopters of the press and later the media and advertising agencies. Printing academic books and distribution became easier with this major invention and since then, we have come a long way.

A few days ago, I happened to see a copy of Reader’s Digest belonging to the early 1960s, thanks to a good friend who had safeguarded it this long in its current shape and form. Termites had given it a try and failed on this particular copy. Except for the cover, the entire magazine was printed only in black. It looked different and invoked nostalgia, taking me back to the earliest days of my career…

Then

Those days advertisements were in a single colour – black, because of limitations in the printing process. Photographs were only black & white and enhancing the details in the picture was a manual process.

Most of the products and model images were converted into line drawings and printed. Needless to say, the lack of colour made the ads dull and unimpressive.  Artworks were also done manually – sometimes taking as long as 10 to 15 days! And we had to carry the artwork physically from the design studio to the print house. Getting a proof not only took time but was also a very expensive affair.

Now

Things have changed for the better. We now enjoy colorful magazines and newspaper for all those who still read in the physical form. Despite the naysayers, as a professional involved with printing, I believe that printing will be around for a long, long time.

Technology has enhanced the freehand drawings and Illustrator has made multi-color art material printing an easy and faster process. Camera enabled smartphones to make photography and adaptations quicker. Softwares like Adobe Photoshop or the open source versions of the similar kind help enhance the photographed images easily and efficiently.

Desktop Publishing has made designing almost effortless and much faster!  Even the CTP (computer to print) process helps quality printing. We can see the colour proof in minutes through Digital Printing process.

There is an ocean of difference between an agency then and now. For a first generation advertising professional like me drowning in my thoughts and revisiting some of the pages from history is a truly great feeling.