As the calendar brings us to the start of another year, we reflect on the past in terms of printing well as how science fiction predicted the future.


Digital printing volumes move closer to offset lithography volumes.

Newspapers have more digital subscriptions than newsprint subscriptions.

Old printed books worth a fortune; old e-books worth zilch.

New York City has become overpopulated with 40 million starving citizens. A detective finds out what those green crackers are really made of. (Soylent Green) [The same ingredients as Chicken McNuggets]

Kyle Reese joined the human resistance against the machines (Terminator). [Dawn of the Killer Roomba]


Apple iPhone introduced five years ago. Three billion sold by 2022. Allows everyone to ignore everyone.

The Apple iPad is in development. Spurs many competitors, like Kindle, MS Surface, Galaxy, Nook, and other tablets.

In an underground bunker in Utah, a Dalek, the last of its race, gets loose and kills 200 people before it is stopped. (Doctor Who) [Who’s on first?]


Kodak invents the digital camera and then ignores it. Now, almost everyone has a camera with them as part of their mobile phone.

Mark Zuckerberg starts to develop Facebook and dreams of owning Hawaii.

Wikipedia becomes answer to many students’ prayers.

The spacecraft USSC Discovery XD-1 continues to Jupiter to investigate an anomaly. (2001: A Space Odyssey) [It’s a continuous broadcast of Spike Jones music]


The Internet becomes a thing and the Dotcom Era begins.

PDF is introduced—a major reason for reduction in paper use.

The first 3D printers hit the market.

Xerox introduced the Docutech two years ago and ushered in the on-demand age.

Computer-to-plate begins and is one factor that wiped out the typesetting industry.

Digital color printing with Indigo and Xeikon only a year away.

E-books proliferate.

HAL 9000 becomes operational. (2001: A Space Odyssey) [Computer killing you bit by bit.]

The Solar System has been colonized, sentient androids exist, and brains can be kept alive in tanks. (Captain Future magazine) [Brains also kept in (on?) alcohol]


Steve Jobs sees the Xerox Alto and this inspires the Macintosh two years later.

IBM PC introduced to help Microsoft control the world.

Adobe Systems is founded. PostScript is a second thought but goes on to change the world of fonts and printout.

Battlestar Galactica and its ragtag fugitive fleet arrives at late 20th century Earth. (Galactica) [And can’t find a place to park]

Regular use of earbud headphones, interactive television, video wall screens, robotic bank tellers, the demise of newspapers, and the prevalent use of factoids. (Fahrenheit 451) [Can you burn e-books?]


Laser printer invented by Xerox three years ago. Soon, HP and Canon dominate with desktop printers.

Word processing changes the office and also interfaces with typesetting systems.

First computers applied to typesetting process. Really bad hyphenation and justification ensues.

Astronaut George Taylor and three other volunteers depart Earth from Cape Kennedy on a mission that will take them 2,000 years into the future. (Planet of the Apes) [Where’s Jane Goodall when you need her]

A ­­deadly virus outbreak transforms all but one of the human race into vampires. (The Omega Man/I Am Legend) [And totally misunderstand the concept of Blood Bank]


Pantone introduced in a year—ushers in age of branding with color.

Helvetica becomes hot font. Most people know it as Arial.

Setting type with CRTs begins.

Ingsoc comes to power and forms the state of Oceania. The book opens with Winston Smith creating fake news. (George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four) [Insert Big Brother joke here]


The Photon phototypesetter ushers in a new era in typesetting.

Compugraphic is spinoff that will dominate industry until it doesn’t.

Inkjet printing invented a year ago but will take 50 years to make a difference

Doc Brown falls and hits his head and has a vision of a mechanism allowing for time travel, the Flux Capacitor. (Back to the Future) [Which is what now drives a Tesla]


Chester Carlson invents xerography four years ago.

IBM sees no market for copying machines.

Letterpress still dominates.

National Association of Photo Lithographers formed because print association says offset is not printing.

“If we don’t end war, war will end us.” Then over the wireless, reports announce that enemy bombers are approaching. (H. G. Wells’ Things to Come) [Wireless?]

We are always living through history, but don’t know it for a while.

Happy 2022 everyone, because 2021 is now history. Thank goodness.

Frank Romano has spent over 60 years studying, practicing, advising, informing, critiquing, and annoying the printing industry.