The longevity of technologies
2002-05-21 01:00:00 UTC
As a child in the 1980's I encountered Letraset transfers. Horrible things. Each letter had to be carefully rubbed over with a pen or pencil, then you had to carefully lift up the sheet to check that the entire letter had been transferred to its destination. Invariably there would be part of the letter still on the sheet, and the process had to be repeated.
A few months ago, my father and I were discussing these old printing technologies, and observing that neither of us had touched Letraset transfers since the DTP revolution of the early nineties. We assumed that it was a dead technology.
A few weeks later I was having dinner with a friend—an art student. While we were looking through her notebook, I was intrigued to see a used sheet of transfers. Apparently they're still popular among art students.
A couple of weeks ago I reached the end of my final year project. I got it printed at ProntaPrint and bound at the student union shop. For one reason or another, they weren't able to print the required text on the spine. The solution? Rub-down transfers. (They weren't Letraset, it was another brand.) So there I was, sat in a computer lab at my university, surrounded by machines which, given appropriate software, were capable of high-quality typesetting, with a sheet of transfers and a biro, painstakingly putting each character onto the spine of my project report by hand.
To be fair, the quality of the transfers has increased greatly since I'd last used them. They transfer much more easily (though perhaps too easily) and seem much less inclined to break up. They're still a pain in the arse to use, but slightly less so than they once were.