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50th: Unforgettable Moments — The Odd and Memorable

June 2008 By Erik Cagle
Senior Editor
THE YEAR was 1958. A 14-year-old named Bobby Fischer wins the U.S. Chess Championship. Willie O’Ree is the first African-American to play in the National Hockey League. The U.S. Air Force loses a hydrogen bomb off the coast of Savannah, GA, and it’s never found. Poet Ezra Pound is ordered to be released from an insane asylum, and “that book by Nabokov” (“Lolita”) is published in the United States.

And, in Philadelphia, a 34-year-old man named Irvin Borowsky published the first issue of Printing Impressions.

The industry, this magazine—indeed, our nation and world—have undergone dramatic transformations over the last 50 years. Our publication, just like society, has grown and learned while making mistakes along the way. But we have managed to rise up and claim the top spot among trade publications serving the graphic arts industry, in both circulation size and number of advertising pages. For that, we owe a great debt of gratitude to you, our readers.

Picking out some of the most memorable moments from the past 50 years is a Herculean task. This look back is by no means comprehensive, but we think it captures the essence of what our magazine, and industry, has experienced through the years.

THE M&A ONSLAUGHT: The printing industry found its apex around 1998-99 as a flood of mergers and acquisitions took place. Money flowed freely as consolidators sprouted up almost overnight.

Venture capitalists loved the printing industry; it was huge and highly fragmented.

It defined a generation of printers and made Printing Impressions/RIT Printing Industry Hall of Famers out of the most notable M&A artists in the business, Joe Davis and Chris Colville of Consolidated Graphics.

Well, the last 10 years have brought about great change, and many venerable names have disappeared from the printing landscape: Moore Corp., Wallace Computer Systems, World Color, Banta Corp., Cadmus Communications and Perry Judd’s, to name a few.

But look at our cover stories from 20 years ago: James H. Barry Co., Laurel Printing, Hennegan & Co., Foote & Davies, Sorg Printing, National Bickford, American Color and Lone Star Web. Some have been acquired, a couple are still doing business, but others have disappeared.

Suffice to say, in 25 years, we’ll be saying the same thing about the printers featured on our covers in 2008.

COOLEST COVER: Corporate is the most accurate way to describe the front cover art selection for Printing Impressions. A good 90 percent of our cover images depict male executives in business attire, standing or sitting in a conference room. But for one bold, reckless issue in 1995, we threw caution to the wind.


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