|Contributed by Super Administrator|
|Nov 24, 2011 at 09:16 AM|
Computers have pretty much always needed printers. The earliest machines often used teleprinters, slow old devices that printed one character at a time. One of the marvels of the 1960s was the line printer, capable of printing 1100 lines a minute, and the mainstay of commercial data processing for a number of years.
But they produced stuff that was instantly recognisable as computer output. That was acceptable while computers were still a novelty, but gradually became a restriction. Along came laser printers which were far more flexible, although originally quite slow. Over the years they have speeded up to the point that they have long ago displaced line printers for almost all large scale computer output.
Once the flexibility of the laser printer became available, the possibility arose of emulating the work of traditional printers, especially for black and white production. Colour has been more of a problem. Ink jet printers were always kept at low purchase prices, but could be costly in terms of consumables. HP have led the market, although their printers are not the most economical to run. Kodak have recently emphasised the low running costs of their ink jet printers and offered user friendly systems for integrating cameras with computers and printers. And the laser has gone colour, but although it can be economical, it does not produce the same vibrancy as the ink jet.
All this printing technology enabled whole new directions for computing, including rapid growth in the popularity of desk top publishing. At the same time, cameras have almost totally migrated to digital. A few professionals still prefer film, but even at in the top ranks of photographers there is much use of digital. The wholesale migration of media handling to digital has made computers integral to the production of printed materials of all kinds.
While the encroachment of computer produced output seemed to have the potential to erode traditional printing businesses, there has always been a need for them to handle high volume jobs. Partly this is because long runs remained more economical using offset litho, partly it is simply that handling a lot of paper and carrying out finishing operations requires specialist facilities.
My book on “PHP5 CMS Framework Development” is published by Packt and their books are produced using on demand printing. This is still a specialist area, although the equipment used is essentially a computer system. Although many books, including mine, are available in purely digital editions, there is still demand for printed books, which are easier to use for some purposes. For books that appeal to a relatively small audience, on demand printing is ideal.
But over the last few years, conventional printing companies have been fighting back. The digitisation of media cuts two ways. While it can enable local print production, it also allows the easy transmission of graphic materials. Design work can be passed to and fro with ease, and printers who can provide a wide range of services remain valuable partners for many organisations. Good print companies operate largely online, providing services almost irrespective of distance. The future looks to be a mixture of specialist and local provision, with the balance constantly shifting at the boundaries.
|Last Updated ( Jan 31, 2012 at 07:10 AM )|