Monday, November 14, 2011

Long Ago

Long ago in a time when personal and office technology was just coming to the fore, L and I founded a little company called Jones Technologies, Inc. It is a story for another time to mention what it is called now. Needless to say it was small then and isn't now.

We started the company about the time the first laser printers with {*gasp*} built in fonts were coming to market. But, ..., nothing was standardized and no two printers had the same way of calling the fonts and using them, so they were pretty much a useless novelty. A client of mine had me create a program to set the fonts in a particular line of lasers as a sales tool. This was back in the days of MS-DOS before Windows was even a gleam in anyone's eye, so you ran my program and then your word processor to print and automagically you had the graceful fonts (but only one font for the whole page, etc ...). It was a resounding success for the client as a sales tool at the time.

In playing around that year, I decided to make what, for the time, was an impressive demo. Using FatLips (yes, I named the program FatLips internally - it was a play on the printer brand and a certain movie of the time), I created this:

At the time, it was a spectacular card. The graphic was cut and paste - literally pieces of paper taped together and added to the page. A few years later this type of thing was common place. And in another few years it was completely supplanted by pure computer techniques.

In any case, this came to mind as L was cleaning out some old paperwork and came across this and had to show me. An interesting reminder that what is now trivial to do from your favorite programs with almost any printer was once something that required programming and specialized tools. I for one do not miss those days of yore in the least!


  1. I remember those days...

    Not sure I'd want to clean that horse's stall.

  2. As recently as 1995 or 1996 I attended a class on programming a printer that my company was considering buying. It was a giant pain in the back end of the horse so we didn't buy it but someone was still trying to sell it!

  3. Hi Dan,
    I haven't been contributing much to Mama Kat lately ---just once in a while ---and haven't seen anything from you there either (but may have missed it.) It seems as if you had been the only male who contributed. I was reading through a few of my old posts and found a comment from you, so jumped over here to see if you were still kicking.

    I enjoyed this post. It reminded me of how wonderful we thought the first "primitive:" computers were.

    The first Apple computer I purchased didn't have a shift key. One had to hit ESC, then type a capital letter, then hit ESC again to go back to lower case. There was only one font. But WOW! For a poor typist, being able to correct text on the computer instead of using Wite Out and trying to type over it, seemed miraculous to me.

    Then, while taking a computer literacy course (when they were foolish enough to be trying to teach mere mortals BASIC programming before there was a ton of software) the university had purchased one Mac. To an artist like me, it was absolutely amazing that I could create a picture and move it around the screen.

    At that time, I was teaching art in a school district that had taken a big leap by purchasing one Apple E computer for each building in the district ---8 in all ---and offered summer classes to faculty to learn how to use them.

    There was also a fund created from donations from individuals and local businesses to provide special equipment for classrooms. One had to write a proposal to be reviewed by the committee to be granted funds. I applied for and was awarded funds to purchase a Mac for the art dept. Besides teaching interested students how to use it after school, I created what I thought were fabulous worksheets and instruction sheets.

    Within about 10 years, there were three computer classrooms in the middle school where I taught ---each with 30 computers so 3 entire classes could use them at the same time for special projects. Older models were given to teachers, so that every classroom had 5-10 for student use. Every teacher had his/her own desktop computer and was given an opportunity to purchase one for home with an educational discount. We saved files on disks and carried them back and forth.

    I am retired now, but I think the teachers now have laptops so they can use them at home and at work.

    Sometimes when my computer is running a bit slow or if a program quits unexpectedly, I have to remind myself of how lucky I am to have such a great gadget at all. I cannot imagine having to go back to using a typewriter, handwriting letters, going back to camera film, creating graphic art work by hand, or having one measly font to use.

    Thanks for whatever part you played in the advancement of the entire process.

  4. I'm happy for the advances in technology, but also saddened at how it has made our society be connected 24/7. How technology is making the concept of work/life balance also obsolete with people expecting all hours of the day and night.


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