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PI's 45th ANNIVERSARY -- The Lighter Side

June 2003
By Erik Cagle

Remember 1958? A good many whippersnappers don't recall that year.

Eisenhower was in the White House. The price of first class postage was about to balloon to four cents after a quarter century of three-cent stamps. Elvis joined the army. Liz Taylor was working on just her third divorce (victim: Mike Todd). Arnold Palmer won his first golf major by capturing the Masters. And Alaska was about to become the 49th state.

Prince, Madonna and Michael Jackson were all born. As was yours truly, Printing Impressions.

Sure, all the aforementioned may have enjoyed a better year than PI on occasion, but while the trio of entertainers have witnessed the decline of their music, it is the venerable trade magazine that looks and sounds (reads) better than ever.

While its look has changed over the years, Printing Impressions is still the commercial printing industry leader in every regard, from circulation to advertising share, not to mention unsurpassed editorial excellence. Aside from the latest advances in printing technologies and spotlight features on the top commercial printers in the country, our book has also seen its share of offbeat pieces. Some things that appeared "back in the day" would raise a few eyebrows today, but imagine how computer-to-plate workflows, digital printing and variable data would have been received in 1963.

Here's a sampling of some of the unique fare we've presented to you over the past 45 years:

IT'S GETTING THERE: "Has Web Offset Come of Age?" blared a PI headline in 1963. There were signs that letterpress was beginning to yield to the new kid on the block, web offset. Bert Chapman, production operations manager for Time magazine, noted that "quality is the keynote to increased acceptance of web offset by magazine publishers...There is still some junk being delivered from web offset presses and this is enough to give the entire industry a bad name. Fortunately, there are many top quality offset printers, too."

The article concluded that offset "can hold its own against competition, in varying degrees in the fields of quality, versatility, long runs, economy and speed." Unfortunately for the letterpress process, it would lose even more ground to its then poor stepchild, web offset.

DO YA LIKE SWEET MUSIC?: Our good friends at Bergstrom Paper commissioned Chicago composer William S. Walker to write "six musical compositions inspired by the rhythm of printing presses." They comprised one of the hottest-selling, long-playing albums of 1967, "Impressions in Color." Who could forget such smash hits as "Press Party," "Opus in Offset," and the signature anthem, "Printer's Devil." At $3 a pop, these records sold like hotcakes. Wonder if it's available on CD?


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