Some interesting magazine typography from 1988 .

Below are some headlines from a couple 1988 issues of "Military Modelling Magazine" The ligatures kind of surprised to me. Then I took a few seconds to look it up, and of course, It's ITC Avant Garde. Apparently they've overlapped the RA LA and NA "ligatures". (I can't recall ever seeing Avant Garde's TH ligature in actual use anywhere else.)

I presume these were printed on an offset press, but with digital type?


  • Russell McGormanRussell McGorman Posts: 257
    edited February 2022

    Thanks for the information, Mark and K. 

    What I have installed is ITC Avant Garde Gothic Std, Version 2.000 Build 1000, OpenType Post Script, and actually the LA and RA Ligatures are are there along with about 40 more... Some of which are pretty wild. 

  • I have a full collection of Herb Lubalin's Avant Garde magazines from the late '60s and early '70s. Avant Garde with all its unusual ligatures is used throughout them. For example, the cover of the premiere issue from January 1968. I understand the typeface gradually developed over subsequent issues from the initial cover logotype.

  • Beautiful.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 2,127
    edited February 2022
    Here’s another. Look closely and you can see how it’s full of nips and tucks—the arms of \T, for instance. 
    It’s also printed with spot colours, the photo being a duotone of the red and blue.

  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 1,085
    The early issues of BYTE magazine, in 1977 and thereabouts, were typeset on an IBM Selectric Composer, as can be fairly easily seen, thanks to the fact that it was typeset in Theme, which is fairly obviously not Optima.
    That in 1988 someone would still have had a phototypesetter kicking around, instead of trying to do everything with a laser printer - the super-high-resolution laser printers that are used today for prepress work certainly didn't exist back then - would not surprise me.
    But this thread raises a good question. Could one easily - from one's arimchair, online - see if supplies for phototypesetting equipment could still be purchased in 1988? Some libraries may have tossed out their periodicals from this period, and the pandemic may mean that others are still closed.
  • @John Savard - Lettering Inc was still doing phototypesetting in the late 1980s and likely partially into the early 1990s before it all went Mac. One of my early college jobs in 1992 we were still using a Compugraphic to set type and I used a stat camera daily (note, don't touch the bulbs then attempt to use the machine :D - POOF!)
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 1,085
    I was looking at U&lc magazine in order to try and answer a question from another thread - volume 26, from 1999, featured digital typography prominently, but volume 15, from 1988 seemed to go on as though it didn't even quite exist yet.
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,648
    edited February 2022
    Not everyone had switched over to desktop publishing yet in 1988. It was still mostly a low-end phenomenon, not quite mainstream yet, especially for professional publishing. The number of professional-quality PostScript fonts was still limited, and output to RIPs still had problems, especially for color work, even in the early nineties.

    RIPs used the same supplies (paper, film, chemicals) as pre-DTP typesetting machines. Demand for such supplies probably didn't start to drop until the rise of direct-to-plate and on-demand xerographic printing in the early 2000s.
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,458
    I remember those days well, @Mark.  We used to output line art and type to Linotronic film at 12,000 dpi, with knock out windows for photos and then strip in the four color process in the windows for photos--far better than paste-up but nowhere near as easy as today. Then came 2540 and a reasonable halftone dot. It was a different world after that.
  • I worked at a daily newspaper in 1988. We used Illustrator '88 to create color infographics, but we needed to output them to film using an imagesetter at a service bureau. We'd bring the film back to be stripped into place with the film shot from all the paste-up work for the rest of the newspaper (similar to how color photo separations were stripped).

    We would sometimes set headlines on the Macs, then output them on an Apple LaserWriter for paste-up. The resolution of the LaserWriters was awful, but half the newspaper was still printed using letterpress using 90 lines per inch halftone and screentints, so it hardly mattered.

    As @Mark Simonson mentioned, the RIPs were temperamental with frequent crashes due to limit check errors and other gotchas. In addition, they were slow. The move from the initial Macs to full desktop digital publishing took place in fits and starts over several years into the early '90s and beyond.
  • Marc OxborrowMarc Oxborrow Posts: 220
    edited February 2022
    Design at a small (20 employees, 3 designers) NYC public relations firm circa '91 was still a mix of DTP output and manual paste-up. And the magazine I later worked for was still sending out images to be scanned and supplying images and page layouts as separate film (as @Chris Lozos describes) as late as '94-ish.
  • I’ve been gathering some of the better uses of ITC Avant Garde Gothic at Fonts In Use. The two designers who did it best, besides Lubalin himself, were Christof Gassner and Helmut Krone. Plenty of TH and HT ligs in Gassner’s booklets for German television network ZDF. A couple of these happen to be on their way to Letterform Archive. (Thanks @Florian Hardwig!)

  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,458
    I remember getting those in my mailbox.
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