Another legacy from Apple’s Steve Jobs

Many words have been put together in praise of Steve Jobs. I must confess that I have already done so in my facebook page and thought of doing so in this blog. But, allow me to do so in a slightly different way.

Before I bought my first Apple Mac, I had two PCs, one of which was the original IBM personal computer. Wow, what I paid for it then would buy me super computing power. 20 MB hard drive and 512 kB of RAM and a floppy drive. With a printer it cost me around $6700 in 1986. A lot of money then and compared to what you get for that sum, still a lot now.

And, I will never forget the sales guy asking, “do you really need that much RAM?” This was when 252 kB was a lot. Remember that only a few years previously 512 kB in a main frame was considered very good. But, I digress.

What I did with the computer is pretty much what we all tend to do now: word processing and spreadsheets. I looked at desktop publishing and wasn’t quite convinced with what was on offer. In the end, I went for the familiar and settled on a typesetter, complete with processor, with the chemicals to develop bromides. Again, I digress.

Well, this preamble brings me my first encounter with the Apple Mac. It was a Mac IIx, I think. The actual machine was not that important. What is important is the software, which only ran in the Mac then. It was Quark Xpress. This was desktop publishing that was pretty much WYSIWIG, and at a price that was within reach.

Previously, I looked at Ventura, which I believe ended up as Pagemaker, the precursor to InDesign. I also looked at ReadySetGo. Not bad, but what impressed me was a PC-based software which had very good WISIWYG but cost something like $5000 just for the software. I’m glad I didn’t go with that, as Quark Xpress has been the platform, I’ve carried through the years.

So, in 1991, I got my first Apple Mac. And, I have stuck with Quark, despite their really crazy pricing. Anyway, they came to their senses some 10 or so years ago. Most probably this was because of the pressures brought to bear by Adobe, with In Design. Again, I digress.

Quark eventually went to the PC a few years later, but I have stuck with the Mac platform for DTP. I admit to getting a number of PCs through the years, but none of these were used for desktop publishing.

Now, to Steve Jobs. In one of his career/life’s moves, he studied calligraphy. Great. His love for this led him to appreciate typography and printing, including one of the many things involved in this industry which was measurement. Printing used the Imperial foot as a measurement. More importantly was the unit called pica

Pica is a typographic unit corresponding to 1/72 of a foot. Hence, the pica is 1/6 of an inch. The pica has 12 points (units) of measure.

So, where is this heading. Well, let’s cut to the chase. The Apple monitor to this day uses this measurement. Not as picas, but pixels. Hence, this consideration was front of mind for Jobs when he developed the first Apple Mac. Admittedly, it was a small screen (7”) but it had 72 dots per inch (dpi). This closely matches the printing measurement.

Believe me that this was very important to us doing typesetting. And, the legacy today is the look of the monitor more closely resembles the printed page. Note that PC monitors are on the main 96 dpi. I won’t go into the differences, other than to alert you dear reader of the differences in color for Mac monitors compared to PCs. The latter’s images appear darker.

Anyway, Jobs’ forward thinking helped place Apple Macs as the tool of choice in DTP for a long time. A legacy that continues today.

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