e-idea file



Personal? Used to be hard. No longer.

When it comes to on-demand print and 1:1 personalization, we tend to view these as really recent, modern technologies. We thought we might have a little fun by stepping back a few years and looking for examples that predate the technology... by many years!

1970s on demand printing, Jim Rockford style


Now in terms of short-run, variable data printing, fans of The Rockford Files might recall how this 1970s TV private investigator kept his own small printing press in the rear seat, perfect (on sunny days anyway) for printing a business card on-the-fly for whatever identity he felt the moment required. Jim Rockford really pioneered the use of short-run, on-demand printing to create targeted, personalized communication.

A bit deceptive perhaps, but hey, it was always for the right reason!

Thankfully, both the technology and the market opportunity have blossomed in a way Jim could never have imagined 40 years ago. Personalization was of course never really about bamboozling bad guys from a muscle car's back-seat. The killer app turned out to be providing fast, powerful, individualized, highly-relevant communication. Whatever your market (as long as it doesn't involve private investigation), just give us a call to see how it could work for you.

Pre-war personalization


We think we are so forward thinking. We're all tricked out with satellite tracking, smug with our smart phones, on the forefront of the iPad fad. 75 years ago humans must have been practically Neanderthals. No one had television, let alone a mobile NetFlix account. AT&T was still owned by, you know, AT&T. Dialing a phone number required dialing a dial. The hot new social media of the day was a party line, which required an actual operator to patch the klatch together.

And yet, if you search US patents using Google Patents for "personalized printing," a patent was issued on July 5, 1938 for just that purpose. A long-forgotten futurist by the name of HL Latz received a patent for a device, the overview of which "contemplates... a printing apparatus designed to function as a personal print machine for imparting to printed matter the appearance of having been specially prepared for the individuals receiving the same."

So my fellow traveler, the idea of personalization, and the potential benefits it could deliver, are not new ideas. And while the idea of personalization predates digital by nearly three-quarters of a century, the reality of personalization is no doubt a bit easier in our day than it was for Mr. Latz.

One has to wonder if the Sears Catalog was personalized? "Dear Sally May, I am happy to deliver to you a picture book we created just for you!" Signed, no doubt, by Alvah Roebuck himself.

These folks went to great ends to accomplish personalized printing. For you, it is as simple as giving us a call.


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