At the beginning of the computer era, before the term “personal computer” was even born, you pretty much had to be programmer working in a command-line operating system (OS) even to turn a computer on and get the lights flickering. The high-tech trailblazers started bringing computer technology to people’s desks in the mid-1970s, especially the “two Steves” (Jobs and Wozniak) who made the Apple II the first successful “personal computer.”
By 1985, the PC boom was going like gangbusters, and the ongoing refinement of the graphical user interface (GUI) – first on the Macintosh, later in Windows, now in Linux, too – put amazing amounts of power at every user’s fingertips. This so-called “democratization of computers” brought millions of people into the new, exciting and seemingly limitless Internet Age.
Peripherals matter Despite the advent of easy-to-use computers (perhaps “easier to use” is more accurate), some elements of the user experience stayed with the “geeks,” those engineers and programmers who started the whole ball rolling in the first place. And makers of multifunction office devices, computer-aided machining and design (CAM/CAD), RAID backup systems and disc duplicators have had a somewhat harder time “democratizing” those product areas. This was a common problem in the 1990s.
Tremendous strides have since been made in simplifying the operation and upkeep of these other complex peripheral devices. There is no reason whatsoever that the average home or small-office computer user cannot operate and maintain a duplicator or media printer, or work with audio and video files, or design newsletters and websites. Anyone able to sign up for a Google account or set up their VCR can follow the plain-English instructions for doing all these things.
New storage for new “stuff” Following the invention and spread of the CD in the 1980s, music and video both went digital. The “analog days” were over although record companies maintained control of manufacturing for many reasons, including simple business factors such as quality control and distribution. The cost of the technology and the knowledge required for using it made personal CD duplication, music recording and moviemaking quite expensive. These things work together, of course, since anyone making digital music and movies will need some serious storage for those big files.
The first optical storage devices were large, encased media with bulky recorders costing thousands of dollars. Even if a musician or videographer wanted to do the manufacturing, it was cost-prohibitive and still very technical. That was then, however, and this is definitely now, so it remains a bit mysterious why some people still consider disc duplication difficult, overly technical or costly. Actually it is none of those things.
Art and engineering Some folks are anything but confused, though. Musicians and moviemakers are more likely these days to why they should take control of their own media, from its creation to its duplication and distribution. With today’s recording, sequencing, video production and file conversion software, a motivated artist can become a producer in short order, with the right type of equipment and some good help, of course.
Finished discs need to look good as well as work right, so you must always choose the best disc printing tools for the job. There are several ways of imprinting a disc. Among the most popular are inkjet printers, thermal printers and the new laser-etching LightScribe process developed by Hewlett-Packard and licensed to a number of disc-burner makers. There are benefits to each, and a duplication-and-printing method that meets your needs and budget won’t be hard to find.
Expand your market If there is one thing you can count on with technology, it’s that new inventions and tools get less costly and more refined with each passing day. As the prices for disc duplication continue to fall, ever more artists, musicians and filmmakers will be able to create, produce and market their own works, as well as store them for a century or so.