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The Stacks

….or Perish!

03.05.08 | Comment?

Publish!

From the stacks this week: Publish! the magazine of Desktop publishing, February 1990 issue. I have no clue why I kept this magazine all these years, except maybe as a warning to myself never to art direct a cover this ugly. Who would have guessed that purple and turquoise would look dated 18 years later?

The wonderful thing about old trade magazines is that they show the state of the art filtered through the prism of low-end production values. This issue finds the now-embarrassing retro movement in full bloom—ala art deco typography and graphic affectations, rendered in Miami Vice colors. It also gives insight into the timeless foibles of low end design—then as now, small magazines still attempt to cram too much onto feature spreads and covers.

Publish!

Of course the most interesting thing about a magazine like Publish! has little to do with design. “Wake Up the Boardroom” which blubbers on about how wonderful it is that there are twelve different programs for slide creation is weird enough in an era of Microsoft dominance—it’s also the use of the word “slide,” which I expect to have to define for a student any day now. Yes, there was a time when people sent their presentations out to be “rendered” in beautiful living “Ectachrome” on “slide burners.” Of course anyone getting worked up these days over Powerpoint—a tool that has since become the bane of every meeting is also weird. Was there a time when Powerpoint “woke you up” rather than put you to sleep? You’ve come a long way baby.

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The best thing about “design” magazines from this era are the ads. A two page spread for Adobe Type Manager, a product that allowed for “smooth” “postscript” typography on screen instead of jagged bit map fonts was as exciting as the two-page far-forward spread would suggest. Other ads offer now-common products for outlandish sums of money—a 10,000.00 color laser, scanners for a grand, 1,200.00 R.I.P.’s (whatever that was), and 700.00 14″ monitors. The nuttiest price I found though, was in the newsbriefs section—1500.00 for a utility that allowed P.C. users to use Adobe type faces. Oh yeah, it took a lawsuit to get Adobe to support the P.C…..

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