1970 – 1979


• Edward Ronthaler, Aaron Burns and Herb Lubalin found the International Typeface Corporation (ITC). It becomes one of the largest type foundries in the market, marketing both new designs as well as revivals of older typefaces such as Garamond. In 1986 the company was acquired by Esselte Letraset. Nowadays its collection is owned by Monotype Imaging.

• US company Datacolor is founded in Lawrenceville, NJ. It develops solutions for industrial color challenges.

Water-based inks are introduced.


•  The CompuWriter series of machines are Compugraphic’s first phototypesetters that allow operators to output text directly without the use of tape. They are targeted at small print shops, advertising agencies, and publishers and marketed at a very reasonable $6,950. The original CompuWriter includes two 96-character typefaces in sizes from 5 to 12 points. Using a manual lens change the type size can be increased to 24 points. A later model, the CompuWriter II, offers 3 or 4 fonts. Below is a picture of the keyboard of a battered CompuWriter II. Note the copy holder in the middle and the lack of a monitor.

Compugraphic Compuwriter II

•  Harris is the first company to offer a video editing terminal. The device lets operators edit text input from punched paper tape and then produce a new tape.

• The output unit of the revolutionary Hell DC 300 drum scanner uses an argon laser split into six beams to simultaneously write the scanned data.

• Crosfield Electronics introduces the Magnascan 450, the first scanner that uses a minicomputer to electronically enlarge and reduce the image.

• Abhay Bhushan writes the original specification for FTP, the File Transfer Protocol. It will still take nearly three decades before this becomes a popular way of exchanging data between designers and printers.

•  Project Gutenberg, a digital library of public domain books, is launched.


DuPont Cromalin is launched. It will become the industry standard proofing system until inkjet devices take over.

URW is founded. Until its bankruptcy in 1995 it is one of the largest type foundries. One of its founders, Peter Karow, created Ikarus, possibly the first font editor for digital typefaces.

• The ROLAND 800 is the first sheetfed offset press with an integrated ink control system. It can print up to 10000 sheets per hour. It is one of the highlights of the drupa 1972 show. The other one is the Heidelberg GTO 52, of which a 4-color version is shown below. Of this press 106,000 units are sold worldwide until production is halted in 2014.

The Heidelberg GTO 52 offset press

• The last Linotype is manufactured in the USA.

• Müller Martini develops its first offset web press for business forms. The company will continue making printing presses until 2015 when it shifts its focus entirely to finishing machines.


• The Automix Ultracomp is the first system to use a microprocessor. Intel had introduced the world’s first single-chip microprocessor, the Intel 4004, two years before.

• The Dainippon Screen SG-701 color scanner is launched and becomes the company’s biggest commercial success.


• Xerox develops the graphical user interface for its Alto computer. This computer will influence many systems in the next decade, including the Apple Lisa and Macintosh, and the first Sun workstations.

Atex is founded in Massachusetts by Douglas Drane and two brothers, Charles and Richard Ying. The company sells its first electronic composition system a year later to U.S. News and World Report. For the next 25 years, Atex will be a major supplier of editorial systems in the newspaper industry.

• Newspaper circulation reaches its highest level ever in the US. It will remain fairly steady until a gradual decline sets in during the mid-’80s.


Ikarus is the first computer application to digitally generate fonts at arbitrary resolution.

• The Mergenthaler-Linotype GmbH introduces the Linocomp IIphoto typesetting machine and the Linotron 303/TC and Linotron 505/TC cathode ray typesetting machines.

Fun trivia: When industry veteran Frank Romano bought a Linotron 505 for his company he was shocked at the pricing of spare parts. He decided to find out what was in the machine, removed the case and discovered that most of the innards of the Linotron 505 were available at Radio Shack, the chain of electronics stores. Subsequently Romano wrote an article in TypeWorld listing those Radio Shack parts numbers. Linotype sued him for copyright infringement. They lost and Romano then countersued Linotype. He won and used the proceeds from the settlement to build an addition onto his home. It was called the ‘Linotype Wing’.

• The AM Varityper Comp/Set is the first phototypesetter with an integrated video editor.

• Shinohara Machinery Company builds its first offset press, the Fuji 58.

Fotoba is founded in Italy. The company manufactures cutting devices.

• Eastman Kodak engineer Steve Sasson created the first digital camera.

Steve Sasson created this digital camera in 1975


• The first laser printers, such as the IBM 3800 and Xerox 9700, hit the market. They are prohibitively expensive but useful for applications such as cheque printing.

• At the Imprinta trade show in Düsseldorf, the first Linotronic photo typesetting system with a full-screen display and floppy disk drive is shown.

• Chinese manufacturer BEIJING People Machine Factory starts producing sheetfed offset presses using the BeiRen brand.

Mimaki is founded in Japan. The company makes flatbed pen plotters during the 80’s and 90’s. Nowadays it manufactures wide format inkjet printers.

ISO 216 which standardizes paper sizes such as A3 and A4  is introduced.


• The Monotype Lasercomp is the first phototypesetting system that uses a laser and comes with a RIP or Raster Image Processor. This unit cannot only create digital typefaces, but it can also handle (admittedly crude) graphics.

Monotype Lasercomp phototypesetter

• Adrian Frutiger designs a sans-serif typeface for all the signage at the Charles De Gaulle airport. The font family is publicly released as Frutiger in 1976. Updated versions are released in 1999 and 2009.

Frutiger 55 Roman

• The production of Linotype hot metal composing machines is halted.

Apple is founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne. Its second computer, the Apple II, is introduced on 16 April 1977 and becomes a runaway success.

Introducing Apple II

Apple’s second logo is designed by Rob Jannoff and described by one of the Apple execs as ‘the most expensive bloody logo ever designed’ because of the cost of having it printed properly on machines and brochures.

logo of Apple Computer, designed by Rob Jannoff


• The Compugraphic EditWriter 7500 is introduced and becomes an instant success. This phototypesetter combines a keyboard and photo unit in one piece of equipment, enabling one job to be typeset while the operator simultaneously keyboards another. Separate units such as the Mini-Disk Terminal (MDT) and Mini-Disk Reader (MDR) allow off-line text entry and phototypesetting using 8″ floppy disks. The output is imaged onto photo paper that is up to 8 inches wide. Type can be set in sizes from 6 to 72 points, using a system of swappable font disks and various fixed lenses mounted on an internal turret.

Compugraphic EditWriter 7500

• The Berthold ADS (Akzidenz Dialog System) is another popular choice for high-quality ad setting. Operators use a series of short commands (mnemonics) to control the system. Feedback is provided by a CRT screen while the sophisticated optical system assures high-quality output and refined typography.

UV inks and drying systems get a lot of attention at the drupa 1977 show. For the first time over 1000 exhibitors participate in the show.


• The Linotron 202 uses digital typefaces that are stored as outline vectors.

• The first version of TeX, a typesetting application geared towards book production, is written by Professor Donald Knuth. He writes the software, which is still in use today, after being appalled by the bad quality of the type used to set the second edition of his book ‘The Art of Computer Programming.’

• Océ acquired the UK-based Ozalid Group Holdings, developer of the Ozalid reproduction process. With this acquisition, Océ becomes a world leader in printing products for the engineering market.

• For the last time a Linotype is used to set the text of the New York Times.


• Scitex introduces the minicomputer-based turnkey Response 300 color prepress system for creating and color correcting full pages.

• Hell launches the ChromaCom electronic image-processing system.

• Computers make their entry in finishing equipment: Muller Martini use a microprocessor-driven control system in their equipment.

MAN Roland Druckmaschinen AG is formed  as a result of the merger of the printing press division of Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg and Roland Offsetmaschinenfabrik Faber & Schleicher. In 2008, the company will be renamed to manroland.

WordStar is the first commercially successful word processing software for microcomputers. A year later SSI*WP, the predecessor of Word Perfect, is released.

<1960s 1980>

15 February 2017

10 responses to “1970 – 1979”

  1. hadian says:

    I have yet a AM Varityper Comp/Set 504. It was one of the best ones that I have ever typed on it. It was under working until 1998 and yet I have put it in a corner of my office and very prude of it. It is very Memorable for me. Never forgot.

  2. I had a dream about someone using Cromalin in an office making bespoke table mats. Must be getting old!

  3. M. Fenberg says:

    I worked for Compugraphic as a Field Technician in southern California, from 1986 – 1992. It was a great job! Worked on the Editwriters, MCS and Powerview systems… then got stuck with all the film processors and cameras! Actually, I enjoyed the cameras! Definitely learned allot of technology. Looking back, it’s simply amazing how the industry has changed! Really enjoyed going to Wilmington for training. Being from sunny southern California, it was a real treat to be in the snow… for a short time of course! Ah, memories!

  4. Karl-Heinz Macek says:

    I’m from Bolzano, nothern part of Italy.
    In 1978 our company bought the Compugraphic 7500 and 7700.
    I didn’t speak english at that time. So the dictionary was my only girlfriend for months.
    Whe opened the first computerbased fotocomposing department in South Tyrol and i worket for years on this mashines.
    But, its a very long time ago….

  5. T.M. Boyle says:

    does anyone remember the infamous Lonotron 505 Digital Phototypesetter? I tore out what little hair I had left? But what a great and well delivered technical training course fron Linotype at Kingsbury.

  6. Nancy Karp says:

    Okay – who remembers the following and what it was for:

    Scroll Up

    I swear those will be the last four words I speak on this earth!!! XD I worked on more doggone Compugraphic machines in my first 15 years in graphic arts – and every one had it’s own personality.

    I started with the big old machines that you loaded punched strands of paper “tape” through. Believe it or not, I could read some of the punch code. The used tapes made GREAT chains for Christmas Trees – especially the ends of the rolls, which were tinted pink!

    One Compuwriter used to drive me NUTZZZ!!! I had to typeset an entire local weekly newspaper on that poor machine. Mind you, it had NO FLOPPY DISK or INTERNAL MEMORY only one stinkin’ line of text that you could “proofread” before it got sent to the setter. This machine was really sensitive to vibrations, heat and humidity – and I used to FREAK OUT after setting a column of BOWLING SCORES to find out (as it came out of the developer) that Mr. Editwriter had just set 8 inches of GIBBERISH!!

    Soooo I had to lift the lid, drop part of the machine down and PUSH IN ALL THE CHIPS!! The only “good” thing is they were brown and resembled a BOX OF CHOCOLATES, so at least they were pleasing to look at. Then it would be time to put it back together and RETYPE the bowling scores!!

    Later on, in my own business, I was about to switch completely over to DTP (circa 1988). My trusty Edwriter 7500 was wearing out fast!! As keys “died” we’d swap less “popular” keys in to keep it going. At last, the CRT started to fail. My last memories were using the machine WITHOUT THE SCREEN and just setting type “blind!” Hey, it worked!! And, in a way, the Compuwriter helped “train me” to set type without a “saftey net.”

    Now, of course, I work on PCs and Macs (yes, BOTH). While so many people use the mouse, I’m a keyboard-command user, and as such can out work people who can type twice as fast as me. THANK YOU COMPUGRAPHICS!!!

    • Justin says:

      I worked on most of the machines you mention, Nancy, but the EditWriter 7500 was by far my favorite. I was able to make that machine do tricks! I also had trouble with keys dying, but strangely they were lesser-used keys and we got around the problem by using the “Insert Block” function.

      IMHO, some of CompuGraphic’s best functions were the “Insert Space” and the auto tabs.

      Thanks for the memories!

  7. Granville Dodson says:

    What memories indeed! I bought one of the first two Editwriter 7500s to make it to the UK. The company we bought it from Whittakers would only deliver to the ground floor! Our offices were on the first floor so we arranged for a removal company to attend when the machines was delivered to get it up to the first floor. Four guys arrived to get it up the straight staircase but they could hardly lift it off the ground!! They said it would need safe experts to do the job. They could not get any safe experts that day so the Editwriter ended up spending the night on the pavement 200 yards from Buckingham Palace! Next day it was still there and made it up the stairs. Shortly after that the Editwriters were made in two bits to make shipping and delivery easier! In their day brilliant machines but what a price, £15,000 and £400 for an extra film strip.

  8. Rob Mailloux says:

    I worked for Compugraphic from 1978-1981 in Wilmington in the “Quality Audit” department. There, we gave quality final testing procedures to several of the product lines, with the EditWriter being the most popular. I knew the ins and outs of both the CompuWriter and EditWriter, and the experience I gained, helped me in my career as a Typesetter, Graphic Design and Page Layout artist, a career of which I have remained.

    I remember being called upon to demonstrate the operation of the EditWriter 7500, 7700, and 7770 to visitors of the company, and at open houses. That used to make me feel like they appreciated me.

    I loved working for CompuGraphic. Those were great times. Met some really cool people, attended some awesome parties, and made some lifelong friends.

  9. Eddie O'Neil says:

    Brings back memories for me. I worked in manufacturing on both Compuwriter II and Editwriter 7500. The company was producing thousands. As I liked working on these machines I thought at the time that Compugraphic Corp did not value there employees not a good place to work unless they liked you then you could move up.