Ode to the ImageWriter & The Print Shop

June 13th, 2016 12:09 PM
Filed under Hacks & mods;

Someone at Motherboard loves the Apple II. Last summer, writer Jason Koebler attended KansasFest, resulting in a fantastic article and podcast.

Now Ernie Smith has taken a deep dive into dot-matrix printers and The Print Shop:

… in its original form, [The Print Shop] was an '80s-tastic program that redefined the parameters of print design into something that could literally be called child's play. Wanna make a greeting card? Follow these instructions, then print on your dot-matrix printer. Need a sign for your lemonade stand? No problem—you can even add a picture of the Easter Bunny on that sign, if you want. It was a bold redefinition of something that once required a whole boatload of specialized equipment.

The article is more about the business and legal ramifications of the article without capturing the user experience — which I'm happy to provide, as the Print Shop was a staple of my household. My three brothers and I used for everything from school essay cover sheets to birthday cards to banners. I remember campaigning for the elected position of seventh grade class treasurer using signs made in The Print Shop; when I defeated the most popular kid in the class in the election, he said it was because I did a better job advertising myself.

The vehicle by which The Print Shop outputted these creations was my family's ImageWriter II printer, complete with ink ribbons and pin-feed paper. Tearing the edges off the paper into long strips was practically an arts-and-crafts exercise, as they inevitably became loops, braids, and other figures.

But the time spent printing would occupy the computer, leaving it unavailable for other tasks. I remember when I discovered Quality Computers sold a 32K print buffer hardware accessory, I thought it was a ridiculous expense just to get back a few minutes of computer time. But as I discovered more that my Apple II could do and wanted to make the most of that time, it wasn't long before I decided the buffer was a worthwhile investment. Its installation coincided with my father having some computer issues, and conflating correlation with causation, he demanded I remove the buffer. I never did, and his unrelated issues eventually resolved themselves.


And let us note the role that desktop publishing (DTP) played in the development of Juiced.GS. Although the magazine was designed not in The Print Shop but in GraphicWriter III, an Apple IIGS program, early issues featured DTP heavily. Across six years and eleven issues, the late Dave Bennett penned a series creatively entitled "Desktop Publishing". And the final issue of Juiced.GS's first volume included M.H. "Buzz" Bester's hardware tutorial on ImageWriter maintenance.

My thanks to Smith for taking a moment not only to investigate how The Print Shop evolved, but also for prompting me to revisit these moments. ImageWriter printouts may long be faded, but these memories never will.

(Hat tip to Javier Rivera)

Greetings from the PrintShop

February 11th, 2013 9:59 AM
Filed under Musings;
1 comment.

A month ago, I announced on this blog that I had quit my job. Since then, I've started two new ones. It's too soon to assess the full-time job, but I think it will be a decent fit. The part-time job, on the other hand, is unbelievably awesome. I'm teaching an undergraduate course in electronic publishing, which ties into almost everything I've ever learned and loved doing. There are times that its workload is overwhelming — on a per-hour basis, I'm almost certainly being underpaid. But the longer I do it, the better I'll get at it.

Although my experiences in the Apple II community are directly informing my career path, there's still something missing from my professional life: an actual Apple II. I've not been at my new job(s) long enough to feel comfortable inquiring about bringing such a behemoth into the office. But my workplace seems pretty supportive of BYOD, so I don't think it will be an issue.

In the meantime, I was pleased as punch that the Apple II was the source of my first official congratulation on this transition I've undergone. Shortly after my last blog post on the subject, I received an envelope in the mail with a return address from a Juiced.GS subscriber. Forgetting that he'd already renewed his subscription for 2013, I thought I'd find a check inside. But what I found instead was even better!

The card was printed on single side of a single 8.5" x 11" piece of paper and folded into quarters. A personal message, not seen here, was handwritten on the inside. The production is courtesy Broderbund's PrintShop GS. Although I didn't ask, I suspect no emulators were used in the creation of this card.

I appreciate the goodwill the Apple II community has extended to me and my endeavors through this thoughtful member and his gesture!

For the completionist, a PDF of the card is also available.