The Print Shop: The Foundation for Online Communication

By Elizabeth Skoletsky
April 29, 2020

Have you ever wondered what it was like when communication applications were first being created? To say the least, these times were very different from the present. One of the first communication applications created, “The Print Shop”, introduced a new form of virtual communication in 1984 1 . This desktop publishing software, created for the Apple II computer displayed a library of templates, clip art pictures, and text boxes. These tools allow the user to create personalized cards, banners, signs, and letterheads, which then could be printed 2 .

This application grew popular immediately after its release because it offered an easier and more efficient way for people to communicate 3 . According to II Computing magazine, a technology magazine published in 1985, the program was known as a graphic utility for anyone 4 , meaning that even those who were not tech savvy could easily navigate and use the program. Everyone from children, to small businesses, community organizations, and teachers could find a way to quickly send out important information, or just reach out to a loved one without physically speaking. People grew fond of this form of communication and an interview with the programmer of “The Print Shop”, Martin Kahn stated that he and his coworkers spoke digitally through “The Print Shop” for about five months when they were living across the country from one another. 5 

The Print Shop” was the foundation for all forms of online communication and office type desktops, making this software truly revolutionary.

  1. Deborah Kovacs, "The Print Shop and the News Room," II Computing, Vol. 1, No. 1 (October/November 1985), 40-42, https://archive.org/stream/II_Computing_Vol_1_No_1_Oct_Nov_85_Premiere#page/n49/mode/2up.

  2. Martin Kahn and David Balsam, “The Print Shop,” (San Rafael, CA: Broderbund Software, 1984).

  3. Morton Kevelson, “Print Shop.” Ahoy! Issue 19 (July 1985, 50-54, https://archive.org/stream/Ahoy_Issue_19_1985-07_Ion_International_US#page/n49/mode/2up.

  4. Kovacs.

  5. Kevelson.