Technology and displacement

by Paul Burmeister

Gutenberg's technological innovation did not result in a reduction of specialists; rather, specialists were displaced by counterparts. Copyists and illuminators were displaced by compositors and engravers. In a more direct exchange resulting from the innovation, type designs and page designs were at first intended to resemble the earlier model. Printed letterforms, carved and moulded, were quite similar in their appearances to those drawn with pen and brush.

I remember a time, not more than 30 years ago, when printing involved photo-typesetters, paste-up workers, color separators, and strippers. Desktop publishing quickly replaced all of those skilled specialists with a single person sitting at a single workstation.