1985 – LaserWriter, PageMaker & DTP

Apple starts looking around for a ‘killer application’ to boost the sales of Macintosh computers. Steve Jobs convinces John Warnock from Adobe to create a PostScript controller for their Apple LaserWriter, allowing it to output ‘typesetter quality’ pages.

Apple LaserWriter

Apple and Adobe are fortunate enough to stumble upon a small start-up that has created an application to utilize the Mac and LaserWriter to their full extent. That company is called Aldus and their software product is PageMaker.
Aldus Pagemaker 1.0

Paul Brainerd from Aldus first uses the term desktop publishing to describe what their software has to offer.

Aldus PageMaker disk

Microsoft introduces Windows 1.0. I play around with this operating system during my studies and find it to be an absolute horror. Despite its name, the operating system does not have ‘windows’. You can only split the main windows into separate areas for each application and maximize/minimize each application.

Microsoft Windows 1.0

Scitex Handshake links Macs to their high-end Response prepress systems. In close cooperation with competitors such as Crosfield, Dainippon Screen and Hell, a set of Digital Data Exchange Standards are developed to standardize information exchange between systems.

Atari releases the Atari ST, a personal computer that remains popular until the early nineties. In the late 80’s the Atari systems and laser printer combined with software such as Calamus become a popular desktop publishing system in countries like Germany.

Fontographer from Altsys is the first Bézier drawing program for Macintosh computers. The application is owned by a few different companies in the years to follow but even 25 years later it is still the leading font editor on the market.
Lucid from Charles Bigelow and Kris Holmes is designed to be legible when printed at a small size or displayed on a low-resolution display.
Lucida typeface example

These are some important or remarkable events from 1985:

  • Mikhail Gorbachev introduces ‘glasnost’ and ‘Perestroika’ in the USSR.
  • Reagan and Gorbachev start nuclear arms control talks.
  • The hole in the ozone layer becomes a popular news topic.
  • The Live Aid concerts take place in London and Philadelphia.
  • Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior is bombed by the French government.


One thought on “1985 – LaserWriter, PageMaker & DTP

  1. Aldus was a special little company. I came up as both a designer and a pre-press specialist in small agencies in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Technology adoption was a huge differentiator for a start-up, and I was lucky to work for companies that were willing to buy the latest gear and let me figure out how we could monetize it. The technical support folks at Aldus were always willing to help me through a problem, usually created by me trying to use Freehand or PageMaker or Persuasion for something it was not meant to do or figure out how to produce what I made on some new piece of technology. They spoiled me for all other companies.

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