It is hard to believe that July 2010 will mark the 25th anniversary of PageMaker. Introduced in 1985 by Aldus, the page layout program brought typesetting and design to the desktop computer and revolutionized the way the graphic industry created type.
PageMaker drove the sales of Apple Macintosh computers and LaserWriter printers and brought typesetting services to quick and small commercial printers. While a small number of quick printers had expensive proprietary typesetting equipment such as Compugraphic, Mergenthaler, and AM Varityper, most quick printers relied on the customers’ camera ready art or on type created by expensive typesetting services and service bureaus from the original.
Desktop computers running PageMaker quickly made the cold type machines obsolete as the output resolution climbed. The price of entry dropped and quick printers adopted desktop publishing. At the same time, they created what became known as the “black hole” of quick printing. Quick printers never seemed to understand the cost relative to the value of DTP services, and complained that their DTP departments never made money. Since the equipment was cheaper than cold type machines they could sell it for less. Right? Even today, studies show most printers still don’t charge enough to cover the costs of their prepress departments.
In September 1994, Aldus merged with Adobe. In 1999, Adobe released InDesign 1.0 in an attempt to recoup market share that PageMaker had lost to QuarkXpress. The success of InDesign meant the death of PageMaker. The last version, PageMaker 7.0, was released on July 9, 2001. Although updates have been released for the Mac and PC platforms, Adobe no longer supports PageMaker and most new computers will not run the program.
Birth of a Revolution
Today’s digital print shop owes its start to PageMaker. Because of PageMaker, more customers began to create their own professional looking documents. The additional documents drove quick printing sales. PageMaker created a new market that generated competitors such as Quark, Ready-Set-Go, Ventura Publisher, Microsoft Publisher, and others. Word processing programs improved their capabilities to provide DTP-like output. The DTP revolution moved the power to create a document into the hands of the consumer and the print world changed. When the customers needed copies of their documents, they took them to quick printers.
In the beginning, many printers scoffed at the quality of PageMaker documents and the 300 dpi output. “Customers won’t pay for that,” said some print experts. Those experts quickly learned that faster turnaround and pleasing typesetting quality had a huge market. The output that customers “wouldn’t buy” became something that most businesses wanted.
PageMaker started the digital revolution and quick printers are still trying to keep up. What was once the typesetting department is now the prepress department, and the computer drives every output device in the shop. It isn’t just a department that creates an original for print. Almost every job that prints in today’s shop goes through a computer at some point, and most of them touch the prepress department.
The 25th anniversary of PageMaker helps us realize how much things have changed. But it also shows how much things remain the same. Printers are still trying to figure out how to charge for prepress services.
Print in the Mix
Most printers don’t sell printing. They take orders for printing. This model worked 25 years ago, but now that that most businesses can support their everyday copy needs in house, printers have to get out and compete for the business that is left. This means a printer will have to get into conversations with customers about their printing needs and overcome objections that come up. There is a good source to help printers get the facts they need.