You know, as digital artists we have some amazing tools available to us to help bring our imaginations to life.
The latest graphic tablets (now affordable for most anyone,) matched with the latest high-definition screens (displaying billions of colors,) connected to the latest computers (whose size are measured in inches and not feet,) all to render work near instantaneously. It's hard to imagine that with what we have today, publishers and artists were using these same types of devices as much as 40 years ago to set type, scan images, or even draw pictures.
So if you were an artist in the late 1970's, what would it have been like?
Well, click here (or above) to watch a video to get a bit of an idea.
If that's anything to go by, straight-up drawing was still a little out of reach. But you could scan drawings, save them, view them on a screen, scale them, and print them. Since everything you were saving was on a tape, loading times were slower than the page being printed from dot-matrix printer. You'd only have 8 to 16 colors max to work with. Also you'd get a severe neck cramp because you'd be looking at a monitor about 4 to 5 feet above you to do your work, apparently.
In the late 1980's to early 1990's, things improved a lot. How improved?
Watch this other video to see a Quantel promotional video about their new tablet series.
(By the way, you're allowed to laugh at the hilarious editing in that video -- it's pure gold.)
Monitors were still really small, (while the tablets were huge,) but they could render 256 to thousands of colors. The move to hard drives instead of tape media meant you could store and load your work faster. (But as these hard drives were measured by the megabytes, you could store a whole 100+ full size(?!) images!!!)
You also would have had an undying fondness for the Airbrush tool. (If it wasn't airbrushed, it wasn't art.)
Things had improved enough to the point where tablets were losing their wires, and software was getting more complicated to support things like copy/paste, and pressure sensitivity. Photoshop was brand-new to the market, but wouldn't receive layer support (and therefore become relevant) until 1994. Therefore, companies like Quantel had their own hardware and software bundles that were specific for making images and layouts. Our modern-day tablet+computer setup is derived from Quantel's design.
At one point or another, this stuff was all mind-blowingly state-of-the-art. I bet it would have been hard for artists during that time to imagine what we have now as a reality. Much in the same way how I have ideas on where we'll be in another 30 years with this stuff, but I'll probably be amazed at the progression still, anyway.
"Guys, remember when we used to draw on/with LCD screens?"