Back in the Day….

25 years ago, I was on my high school yearbook staff at Fontana High School, in California.  I never left working on yearbooks one way or another since then.  My yearbook adviser, who is my best friend to this day, used to share with me a day where he thought computers could be used for putting together yearbooks.

Back then, we had “quad packs” that were 4 forms with 3 sets of carbon paper between each sheet, with the top sheet having a grid.  We used to take rulers and draw out our layouts using the grids.  We used to insert the quad packs into a type writer to type the names below each student and type out our stories.

Images where delivered to us in had written envelopes, with the students name’s hand printed on the outside.  We had to place stickers and number each of the pictures according to the square they were going to be placed on within that page.

Soon after high school, I went to work for a school photography company that supplied images in hand written envelopes back to the school.  I always envisioned finding a way to automatically print the names on the envelopes that the pictures were delivered in.  I was always a geek, so even while I was in yearbook, I was printing out my homework using a computer, so I knew it could be done.

The paper advanced in the printer using a tractor feed.  So I had to find some sort of envelope that could run through a tractor feed.  There was no Internet to search, so I just had to keep my eyes open for a solution.  I looked into getting them custom done, but it was cost prohibited through any of the local printers or even from printers in the yellow pages.

I had a lab send me a bunch of samples in the mail.  I was thrilled to find that they had sent an envelope used specifically for inserting prints (that we called glossies).  Right on the envelope was the name of the manufacturer, Multi-Graphics, along with their number 1-800-388-7776.  Immediately I called and was able to order the envelope that I knew would help set the company I worked for away from the competition, and make my life easier.

My friend and former yearbook adviser, Jim Dunn, and I used to go out on photo shoots together.  We often went up to Bishop in the High Sierras.  (We still go to this day.  You can see some of my work from this year here).  We used to imagine and talk about SLR cameras that would auto focus and meter several points within a scene.

If we went out to a shoot at a school and something went wrong, we would have to track down a pay phone to call the office bring replacement equipment or supplies out to us.  If the office was closed, we were just out of luck.  We couldn’t just pick up our cell phone and call someone else on their cell phone to ask them to bring us something.

Recently, I attended Pro Photo Summit  at Microsoft.  The photographers were wishing that there was an easier way to catalog their digital images.  They were complaining about how much time that it took to do this.   I couldn’t help but ask myself what they were complaining about.  Sure filing digital images could be a chore, but, when compared to the time it used to take to process the film, print the images, and then file the film AND prints by hand, moving images in folders on an computer was far quicker.

When is quick, not quick enough?

Tomorrow – “Your Life – On Demand”

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