Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

June 2003

Twenty years

With this issue, this publication begins its 20th year.You don’t believe me? You should see my notebooks!

Looking through some of the older ones searching for an idea to spark 75 lines of correctly arranged letters by deadline, I came across this weird little bit of dialog. I don’t know (can’t remember anything about why I wrote this down sometime in 1987) who the speaker or the listener might be. Maybe I made it up. (Hello, New York Times.)

“Do you want to be treated like a bump or a bug?”

“What’s the difference?”

“I run over bumps

and into bugs.”

“What’s that mean?”

“It means I’m in a hurry, start talking.”

I told you it was weird.

Anyway, I’ll start talking. I made a list of things that are different in the way I do business now and how it was in June 1984.

Number one change: fax machines. I didn’t have one and few others did. There was a little biz called Dial-A-Copy on College Street across from the library that apparently did have one you could use, but I never did. Sometime in the intervening years, I got a fax, you got a fax and every one else in the world got a fax. We’re on our third or fourth machine not counting the internal faxes on most of the computers.

My brother-in-law sells customized work vehicles to municipalities all over the world. He tells me the fax machine has made the biggest difference in how his business is conducted. Where he once went back and forth in the mails with prospective clients, now he must fax the specs, pictures and what-all immediately upon the customer’s request for information where he used to have a day or more to create the package.

In short, the fax machine hurried things up, no bumps, no bugs to delay the process.

Number two change: production process for the magazine. Now, and for the past 12 years, Apple Macs and good software do it all. We started out with a fairly state-of-the art computerized phototypesetting machine the size of an oil boiler. It cost around $40,000 and required its own washroom because of the chemicals in the developer. Plus, you needed a light table to paste the type on and a stat camera (maybe $3,000) to reduce and enlarge images to paste down for “position.” Somewhere around 1998, the typesetting machine was repurposed — into a boat anchor, I think.

Other changes include cell phones, voice mail, dress modes, the Internet and Williston. In short, everything except the way I prepare this column has changed.