by Edward Webster By Noel Ward August 18, 2003 -- At least a couple times a year I find conversations with digital printing veterans invariably swinging to some of the machines and technology that brought us to where we are today, with digital printing established as a mainstream printing technology. These strolls down memory lane recall the early machines, the often rudimentary ways they worked and of course the many people who have contributed to and built the industry over the past 50-odd years. Nowhere is this history better explained and described than in Print Unchained, a book by Edward (Ted) Webster, founder of Datek Information Services and presently consulting editor to IT Strategies. With Print Unchained Webster has assembled a compelling look--clearly a labor of love--at the amazing range of hardware, software and people who have shared the vision of digital printing. His company, DRA of Vermont sent me a copy of the book some months ago which promptly became buried in my office. When it turned up the other day I was pleased to go through it again--and knew I had to tell ODJ readers about it. The outsized, hardcover, 253 page volume covers virtually all types of digital printing devices from assorted line printers, IBM Selectrics, and daisy wheel printers to high-speed electrophotographic machines we see today. It explains how many of them worked and is replete with pictures of components of the electro-mechanical wonders that put text and images on pages. Best of all, it points out how the printing technology we take for granted today was built one step at a time over a long period as engineers and visionaries climbed a long slippery learning curve. It is a fascinating look at digital printing technology and should be in the library of anyone who sees beyond the machine to the vision behind it. It is available from DRA of Vermont, 802-464-5845 or on the web at Ted Webster tells me he will offer the book at a 40% discount to ODJ readers who mention this review when ordering the book. The book is normally $125, so this makes it a $75 investment that will bring you many hours of pleasure and remind you of all the progress that’s been made and give you an idea of what’s to come. ------------------------------------------------------------------------