Print Housecleaning: Stirring Up the Digital Divide


Office cleaning

The turn of a new year is always time for some housecleaning here at ImageSmith. And, as usual, amid the dust, paperwork and clutter that accumulates in any production environment we always find a few surprising reminders of how quickly and drastically times have changed.

The print and marketing world found itself on the cutting edge of change very early in the desktop computer revolution of the 70s and 80s. As prepress and print digitized – altering the methods of how print had been produced for centuries – the ensuing communications revolution altered the very core processes of how businesses function and market themselves. The speed of that change, in hindsight, is truly astounding.

Zip Disks stored digital print jobsZip Disks: remember these? From the iOmega company in 1994, Zip disks were a removable, read and write storage device – the successor to the floppy and the short-lived Syquest disk – that held 100MB of data. Print jobs were still in the process of becoming all digital (no longer relying on physical photography, paste-up, or typesetting for plate-making), and the resulting were increasing rapidly as computer graphics software grew more sophisticated. Floppies were no longer big enough to hold even one job. You needed an external (or for a time, built in) Zip disk and drive. iOmega was proud to tout the drag-and-drop storage capability: “Share large files with co-workers, friends and clients” and “Consolidate 70 floppies onto a single Zip disk.” Before CDs, DVDs, zip drives and cloud storage, we gladly adopted the Zip disk as a storage device, and it was common for customers to bring in their work on a Zip disk. (Just remember, they wanted it back.) They also fit neatly into a CD holder.

Dynamic Graphics magazine and CDs, circa 2000Before online subscription services and Google searches could bring you almost any image or artwork imaginable, Dynamic Graphics brought art departments out of the days of clunky clip art to a more modern world of increasingly sophisticated digital graphics and stock photography. In the 90s, that process happened through the US mail – with a monthly CD of artwork, and a printed catalog/index that showed you what the CD contained. Without an online search function, how else were you going to find the right photo to use on your ad layout? Flip through the monthly magazines searching for your keyword – think manual, and time-consuming, Google search. The photo to the right is of the January 2000 cover from Dynamic Graphics publication Concepts & Designs. 2000 doesn’t seem that long ago but the dated layout and imagery in this cover design reveal how quickly styles and the times have changed.

Finally, we found our company Christmas card from 1996. No digital version existed – it was tossed out in the great floppy disk purge of a few years ago or possibly during this year’s Zip disk purge. But one lonely print copy remained. Santa at his Mac (the Power Macintosh 8500) is checking our old America Online email address under the heading “High Tech Solutions.”  For the inside of the card, we used PhotoShop (version 4.0 had just come out) to impose our Christmas card message onto Asheville illustrator and artist Orrin Lundgren’s original elves-on-the-press artwork – a very high-tech maneuver for us at the time.ImageSmith christmas card, circa 1996

Can’t help but wonder how quickly and how far out of date our email, mobile app and online communications will appear after the next fifteen years. Back to housecleaning.


Here’s a link to some helpful tips on how to properly dispose of old computer equipment and other e-waste from the National Resources Defense Council. If you live in our local Asheville area, here is a link to Asheville Greenworks schedule for Hard-to-Recycle events in 2016.


Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Personalization – our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at or call direct at 828.684.4538.



Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.