1960 – 1969


The ASA starts work on the development of ASCII, the American Standard Code for Information Interchange. This set of codes for representing text in computers, communications equipment, and other devices will make exchanging data easier. The first edition of the standard is published in 1963. The latest revision dates from 1986.


Letraset Ltd starts marketing its Instant Lettering System, sheets with letters in a wide variety of typefaces and sizes that can be rubbed off on artwork. Until the advent of desktop publishing, this dry transfer system remains popular.

Dry transfer sheets for lettering artwork1962

• Dr. Ing. Rudolf Hell introduces the HelioKlischograph K190 – the first in a series of systems for gravure printing. Subsequent models have separate scanning and engraving units ( the 1965 HelioKlischograph K193) or digital electronics (the 1974 HelioKlischograph K200). The product family still exists today – the K500 model is shown below.

Hell HelioKlischograph K500

• It is another drupa year. The show highlights are the two elephants ‘dru’ and ‘pa’ that can be admired on the ‘Messegelände’. On the show floor, offset presses get a lot of attention. Among the first-time exhibitors is Buhrs.

• Andy Warhol popularizes screen printing, also called serigraphy, as an art form. His ‘Turquoise Marilyn’ is produced using acrylic paint and a silkscreen print on linen.

Warhol screen print using acryl and linen1963

• After being founded in 1960, Compugraphic introduces their first typesetting computers, the Linasec I and II. These typesetting computers are used to prepare punched tape to drive the Linotype typesetting machines used in the newspaper industry. The paper tape is produced on a Teletype BRPE punch at the rate of about a line a second, hence the name ‘Linasec’. The design and initial manufacturing of the machines are outsourced to Wang Laboratories, another pioneer in the computer history.

• Hell launches its first scanner, the Chromagraph.

• The Dainippon Screen Auto Graver is a machine that can engrave halftone blocks directly onto a printing plate from a reflective original or a transparency. It also produces color-compensated separations directly from originals.


• Douglas C. Engelbart invents the mouse. In 1968 he demonstrates this mouse, word processing, video conferencing, windows, hypertext and dynamic linking at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco. It takes decades before some of the functions shown during this ‘mother of all demos’ become widespread.


• Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) introduces the PDP-8, its first mini-computer. Many photocomposition systems will be based on this computer platform and its successors, such as the very successful PDP-11.

• Norwegian company Kongsberg is founded. Initially it manufactures drafting tables for the shipbuilding industry. Today it produces cutting equipment for the graphic arts industry and is a part of Esko.


• Hell presents the Digiset – the first typesetting machine that works with digitally assembled (bitmap) typefaces. This machine is the first of the third generation of photocomposition systems, which are the first true digital systems. The typefaces are created on a CRT (cathode ray tube, a small television screen). This image is projected onto film or photosensitive paper using a set of lenses. The Digiset can image 1000 characters per second. It is marketed in the US as the RCA Videocomp and still later the Information International Comp80.

• Les Earnest of Stanford develops the first spelling checker. An improved version is released around 1971 and quickly gets distributed worldwide via ARPAnet, the predecessor of the internet.


• Mergenthaler Linotype introduces a CRT typesetter, the Linotron 1010, which is developed in conjunction with CBS Laboratories. It can output up to 15 million characters per hour and is used at the U.S. Government Printing Office in Washington.

Océ enters the office printing market with an electro-photographic process for copying documents using a special chemically-treated type of paper.

ISBN is started in Britain. The International Standard Book Number  is a unique numeric identifier for commercial books.

• The drupa trade show continues to expand with 267 additional exhibitors. Stackers get special attention during this edition.


Scitex is founded. It will gradually evolve to become one of the most important prepress vendors for the next 30 years.

• Cossor (UK) and Hendrix (USA) are the first companies to launch photocomposition systems that have a CRT screen, allowing operators to see what they entered and correct mistakes.

• The Itek 214 camera platemaker exposes print-ready pages directly to a non-metal printing plate. It makes plate making easy and is instrumental in creating the quick printing industry.

• ATF releases the OCR-A typeface, a font that is optimized for machine reading and that meets the specifications of the U.S. Bureau of Standards. Its European counterpart – OCR-B – is designed by Adrian Frutiger in 1973.

The OCR-A Medium typeface


• The Compugraphic 7200 and 2900 photocomposition machines allow operators to enter text using a computer and write the information to tape. This tape is fed into a phototypesetter which imprints type from a strip of film onto light-sensitive Kodak Ektamatic paper. The image below is taken by Dan Wybrant during the production of the Daily Titan in the 1970s. It shows the operator feeding a paper tape in a Compugraphic 2961 phototypesetter. The galleys of text it produces are then used for paste-up.

A prepress operator loading paper tape into a typesetterCompugraphic combines technical excellence with an aggressive commercial policy. They are the first on the market to openly publish the prices of their machines, something considered ‘not done’ in those days. The market is getting crowded since ATF, AM Varityper, Star Parts and Harris all also introduce phototypesetters.

• The Times changes the way financial information is published by using an IBM 1130 computer to handle all financial calculations based on share prices. The computer is connected to composing machines to automatically typeset the pages for about 1850 stocks. It needs only two-and-a-half hours for a task that was previously done by dozens of people working through the night.

• Charles F. Goldfarb, Ed Mosher, and Ray Lorie start working on a text structuring mechanism which in the mid-70’s will evolve into SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language). This will eventually become the basis for both HTML and XML.

ECRM is founded by three MIT professors and a guy from Associated Press. It develops one of the first commercially successful optical character recognition (OCR) machines.

• Ken Thompson from Bell Laboratories starts working on an operating system called Unix. It will become the basis of many typesetting systems and is still widely used today. Apple’s OS X, for instance, is a version of Unix.

• Grapha Maschinenfabrik Hans Müller A. G and Martini merge and become Muller Martini.

• The Crossfield Magnascan scanner, launched at the Milan printing fair, can scan a color slide and create a resized color corrected set of film separations for inclusion in a magazine, catalog or other publication.

Crossfield Magnascan 450

<50s 70s>

29 January 2017

One response to “1960 – 1969”

  1. SomeguyOnVacation says:

    I just gave this website over to a friend who loves this stuff. Well created and interesting, continue the good work. More images are always nice! The content is great, thanks again. Ok, back to my vacation!

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