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887RE: Digital Simulation? (was: RE: [PPLetterpress] Digest Number 254)

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  • David Goodrich
    Sep 3 1:40 PM
      This discussion has been most interesting and I would like to expand it a
      little further.

      Whenever a new technology has been introduced, the first instinct has been
      to apply it so as to mimic the processes already in use. Only after time do
      the possibilities of the new technology become apparent and entirely new
      processes and uses emerge.

      When the industrial revolution first started applying power (water and later
      steam) to perform tasks, the initial devices employed closely imitated the
      hand processes that had been used. Some of the contraptions first devised
      seem pretty ludicrous today. Only after inventors realized that the rotary
      nature of the power drive called for a totally different approach to
      designing machinery did the real benefit appear.

      Similarly, when people first started conceiving robots in the 1930's they
      were little metal men with hands and legs who performed tasks just as people
      would. They were a joke. But today computer driven robots perform all
      sorts of precision tasks in the manufacturing process and they look nothing
      like any human counterpart.

      As Gerald pointed out, computers are simply big adding machines. When IBM
      first applied them to business record keeping, they "emulated" the manual
      bookkeeping procedures that had been developed by large corporations for
      handling thousands of transactions: they sorted, added up and summarized
      individual records and transferred the totals to larger and larger summary
      files of data. It was only when programmers took advantage of the
      computer's capabilities to work with random access memory that the ability
      to manage and use information created a revolution in how business itself is

      In our own narrow field, Gutenberg created a technology that attempted to
      mimic handwritten manuscripts. It took Aldus to recognize that the new
      technology created possibilities for the widespread diffusion of inexpensive
      and easily portable books and he created a new typography suitable to its

      There is no question in my mind that the application of computers and
      digitalization to the graphic arts is in its infancy. Although imitating
      little lead castings is one possibility, the ultimate use of this technology
      has not yet even been imagined.
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