Malcolm Parry Oozes Cool With A Linotype CRTronic 360Sunday, October 09, 2011
|Linotype CRTronic 360|
I work for Google, but the
opinions expressed here are
my own, and no other party
necessarily agrees with them.
My amendment to the above would only change in that I would write I work for nobody.
In yesterday’s blog, Finger Snapping Cool I elaborated mostly on cool jazz. Since then I have been thinking more about what makes cool, cool and what doesn’t.
For me cool, more than anything is about elegance (with a bit of the “form follows” function uttered in 1896 by American architect Louis Sullivan) and exclusivity. This exclusivity is usually due to something that a few people know is cool but they keep it a secret so nobody else will know.
|My Olympus XA|
Sometimes this exclusivity can be simply one of something that is so limited in what it is used for that few in the mainstream would be aware of its existence.
Not many who read this might know what a Norman 200B is. To begin with you would have to be a photographer-of-a-certain-age and one who was never loaded with money. Frugality forced this photographer to chose stuff that worked efficiently, was compact, took heavy duty dropping (mostly unintended) and was easy to repair when it did break down.
I purchased my first Norman 200B around 1977. I have two others. But the original one works just fine and it will produce with its rechargeable battery consistent and relatively powerful flashes. There are many stories out there, few apocryphal, of photographers in the middle of nowhere shooting important magazine assignments or annual reports who find that their expensive studio light system stopped working. After short consideration many resorted to a Norman 200B stored in their car trunk and the day is saved. While the Norman is not necessarily elegant it is Spartan in looks and awfully compact even in today’s trend towards miniaturization. The battery is encased in a sturdy aluminum box that has been known to not quite be bullet proof but close. At the Smithsonian I saw one behind a glass window that had a gaping bullet hole in the middle. This unit saved the live of a Vietnam US Army photographer.
|My Norman 200B|
If I defined elegance as an important ingredient of coolness I need not go any further than my Olympus XA clamshell camera. I no longer use it as I prefer the interchangeable lens capabilities of my Nikon FM-2. of which I have three. The big and heavy Nikon F-3 lies in my photo drawer unused while my light and elegant FM2s show the knocks and wear and tear of being my favourite photographic versions of old but comfortable slippers. Part of being cool is long-lasting stamina. My Nikon FM-2s and my Normans have lots of that.
For a long time Rosemary and I drove the ever cool Audi A-4. It was just right for us. I enjoyed its German engineering and its elegant ergonomics. When finances dictated the returning of our A-4 lease it was just about the time when Audi no longer was the well kept secret. I saw may parked at Safeway. And many were parked around my ultra-cool and exclusive (there aren’t too many of them) 2007 Chevrolet Malibu.
Can you beat the standard feature of being able to start the car from my kitchen breakfast table so the car will be nice and warm by the time I venture into the cold? Can you beat the cars ability to out drag just about any little or medium-sized econobox wonder because my Malibu has a powerful V-6?
In a street of Mercedes, BMWs, one Bentley, a few Audis, a Lotus Elise, a few Range Rovers and many luxury Japanese sedans my Malibu stands out (to me) in elegant coolness and exclusivity.
|The Kaypro from Elegant Solutions by Owen Edwards|
Photographs by Douglas Whyte
Design by John C. Jay
I return here to where I started with the mention of Steve Jobs and his recent passing. I have been thinking that if I define cool as something that is elegant, sturdy but exclusive that cannot make an iPhone 4 cool. It’s lost it to the provisionally rarer iPhone 4S. The iPhone is universally known and when I go to a play at any of the venues of the the Arts Club Theatre Company, I can observe a sea of iPhone 4s all around me. Ubiquity cannot be part of cool. While Steve Jobs personified cool I am not too sure that his products in our replace-it-every-few-month-mentality can keep their cool. The world might remember the first Macs but do they remember the Kaypro, the Osborne 1 or the capabilities of the Linotype CRTronic 360? Our memory for cool is frozen in the present.
Perhaps out modern age of equipment that has to be renewed and re-thought every few months (just try to figure out which is the latest Nikon or Canon) cool is now short-term cool. And yet I can listen to Paul Desmond with the Dave Brubeck Quartet playing Audrey (in honor of Audrey Hepburn) and it is just as fresh and cool today as it was when it first appeared in the mid 50s. Even Mitchum as an old man was cool.
|Alex & iPhone 3G|
Can a person be cool? For this to be so, they must be exclusive of thought (with little fluctuation as a sturdy consistency is important) original in executing these thoughts, and must maintaining equanimity (Brando rarely lost his temper in films as did Henry Fonda). The person with coolness cannot abide showing any doubts outwardly and in the end might seem to be a know-it-all who is much to sure of himself or herself.
While I would venture to assert that no man with a beard could ever be cool I must herewith make the exception to state that former Vancouver Magazine Editor, Malcolm Parry (who played tenor sax in England in a group that featured vocalist Diana Fluck, who changed her name later to Diana Doors) is the man who oozes cool.
In 1982, before anybody (and certainly not me) knew anything about computers Parry brought a LinotypeCRTronic 360 to Vancouver Magazine and the rest is history as Parry writes below. I asked him about a chap I had met a few times. He was tall and wore glasses and he seemed to know about computers. Parry answered:
|Right, Malcolm Parry|
He was probably the salesman for Linotype. I sourced the CRTronic from asking around and reading The Seybold Report, a publication dealing with publishing technology.
What I wanted was an alternative to exterior typesetting services. We were using a firm located nearby called Domino Link, and I had worked out a method with them to do the input in our office by the OCR (Optical Character Recognition) method. It entailed a special ball for IBM Selectronic typewriters, and was moderately useful although we were still restricted by the ability of Domino Link to provide typeset galleys when we wanted them.
I knew from Seybold that lower-priced systems (like the CRTronic) had the potential to generate not just galleys of type but entire pages with the text columns, photo cutlines and windows for photos and illustrations all on one piece of paper. WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) terminals and software had still to be developed, though. To make pages on the CRTronic entailed inserting codes into the text that, like precise map references, told the type where to go. Other codes determined matters like the font, its size, whether roman, bold or italic, column widths, underlines, whether positive or reversed, and suchlike. This took many hours to work out, but I eventually wrote templates for everything, including the position and size of advertisements on the page, page numbers, continued-to and continued-from slugs, and all the things that are now child’s play.
A considerable impediment was that the CRTronic’s computing power was barely enough to undertake a single magazine page, and the data and the fonts themselves had to be loaded by five-inch floppy disks, again with very low limits.
Within a few years, software such as PageMaker and Quark Xpress made the process simpler and speedier using PC or Macintosh computers. We were certainly among the pioneers of that at Vista, and ahead of the technology as regards placing images on to the page along with type. That was another story, though.
However, we prevailed, and I believe Vancouver Magazine was the first in Canada to have digitally compiled pages, with Equity likely the first to begin that way.
|Chris Dahl & Mac Parry|
You have stumped me about that chap with glasses. As I said, he likely was the Linotype rep, with whom I did have some run-ins and who may have provided some rudimentary familiarization. Otherwise, I worked it out myself, from the manual, by intuition and by trial-and-error. Very few errors, however.