How Apple Might Historically be the Most Paper Friendly Computer Tech Company

How Apple Might Historically be the Most Paper Friendly Computer Tech Company 

The original Apple Macintosh was prophesied by Steve Jobs to be a new product that would reinvent the basic layout of the desktop as much as the telephone had. The modern multi-media computer (marked by the later evolution of home computers into the 133-200mhz processor speed range; the classic Macintosh was only 8mhz) serves some interests more in line with television and arguably does it better, which may be why digital broadcasts such as pod-casts often seem to be pulling talent from what would otherwise be broadcast on television, especially considering that cable now has "thousands of channels" yet many seem to be lacking in any particularly interesting content. 

But this was a computer that did not relate to television, or even the interactive and screen heavy graphics of the internet. When referring to the Macintosh, we must keep in mind the original line of compact beige boxes from the 1980s equipped with a screen that mimics print on paper more so than color television like later PC driven graphics cards and larger, color monitors would do. The now 35 year old product that revolutionized the personal computer market with a 9 in. black and white screen had it specifically sized to be equal to the width of a piece of paper. Not only was the Macintosh more successful than anyone except Steve Jobs had imagined at first, but later on, once again under the leadership of Jobs, Apple would go on to reinvent the phone itself as well!
 
But did the early Macintosh itself actually reinvent and reinvigorate the use of ink-on-paper starting in the mid 1980s and going forward as far as into the early 2000s?

In its famous introductory SuperBowl promotional advertisement that year, Macintosh said it would make 1984 not like George Orwell's 1984. But in reality its most lasting legacy might have more to do with making 1984 to circa 2000+ about a drastic increase in desktop publishing and using then ground-breaking easy networking for shared printing on paper. AppleTalk networking was designed to easily network Macintosh computer drives prior to OS X (2001) but also was principally designed to easily network printers. AppleTalk was so successful at print sharing that official support primarily in this capacity was not phased out completely until Mac OS 10.4 (2005).

Apple's introduction of a GUI guided printing device of individual pixels represented itself, as designed, on paper sheets as black ink dots on the so-named dot-matrix printer alongside early b&w laser printers and marked the beginning of widespread print publishing on personal computers both at work and at home by individuals and their families. Apple also extended the presence of computers in schools, specifically designing some of their lineups to be for the education market, leading to an era where blank sheets of 8.5 x 11in. paper would eventually become as or even more common in schools than students using lined sheets of three-ring binder paper punched with holes. These actions, pioneered by Apple, may have significantly helped the paper industry develop in the last two decades of the 20th century and even into the early 21st century.
 
While tech magazines circa 1980 predicted "the imminent demise of the office paper industry" due to first personal (non-mainframe) computers, office paper use continued to grow and support our industry all the way through the 1990s... in fact, the paper industry had some high-profit years in the late 1990s after the dawn of the internet and dial-up access ISPs like AOL becoming available in most homes and other, more business friendly ISPs in nearly every office. The original Macintosh and its lasting legacy / early spin-offs helped define a world where telegraphic (wire / wireless instant delivery via electric reproduction) was not much more dominant too soon in a world that was still turned onto the charm of a telegram or postcard - or perhaps more accurately- its computer driven evolution of the 1980s and 90s, the greeting card. 

And those silly or embarrassing birthday cards that have become a hallmark (no pun intended) of the last few decades are or were likely designed in Photoshop by an employee with the software license to Adobe products once much more common on the Macintosh before eventually crossing over to the PC and eventually outpacing the Mac, especially as Apple fell into corporate disarray in the late 1990s prior to the return of Steve Jobs as CEO to bring back some creativity... Or perhaps some more clever imitation of our most timeless method of communication - via paper. I-Pad, anyone? 


Digital Photography

  • Adobe Photoshop was one of the first household names of programs within dominant photo editing and desktop publishing software suites that were once designed heavily and sometimes exclusively for the Mac prior to Windows 95. After that these programs would become more dominant on the PC with its now more powerful Intel Pentium processors, and the rest is history... at least until Jobs would return.

A picture can say a thousand words but there's only so much digital designers of software for software's sake can add to their suite of photo editing products to make us feel like the tools we have are more than enough to write a novel. But though the printed picture book endures in popularity (a staple on coffee-tables for multiple generations now - and another reason to believe paper will and does endure) the overall number of people not proficient in the full ability of photo editing software the way they are in popular word processing programs is apparent to many of us. Word processing is relatively straight forward if not outright dull. The possibilities unlocked by digital photo editing originally popularized on the first Macintosh computers with rich-color higher than normal refresh rate monitors led to an explosion of point-and-click artists printing from early inkjet printers onto standard or sometimes even glossy paper grades that sold for high profit margins in the industry while this spike in demand lasted... and it would continue to last for nearly a decade after digital photo editing and printing migrated away from Macintosh and primarily to Microsoft Windows driven PCs.

Reflecting Paper, Then & Now: Classic Mac Monitor & The I-Pad

  • The I-Pad symbolizes the timeless familiarity we have with a sheet of paper. The device not only is named for a pad of paper but later versions are nearly identical to the size of an 8.5 x 11 in. piece of paper. Furthermore, devices such as the I-phone and I-pad have promoted e-commerce by bringing digital storefronts out of the home office on a large, tower PC and into the living room, bedroom, etc. E-commerce has since become established as a huge boost to paper for packaging demand predicted to endure and continue driving P&P industry growth.
  • The original Macintosh's 9 in. black and white screen was designed to, when 1/4th inch borders were added, measure 8.5 inches wide so that the text would appear just as it does on a sheet of paper when it is printed. The front face of the Macintosh all together is about equivalent to the 11 in. height of a sheet of paper. Although the screen was shorter, then-new scroll bars introduced by Apple's GUI for the Macintosh effectively allowed writers to see a "full sheet" marked by page breaks for the first time in the early word processing software programmed to operate on the Macintosh.

Editorial reporting by Dylan Patrick

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