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If writers in the past like Mark Twain were still alive today and asked "What is desktop publishing? most writers, artists and businessmen who have benefited from its use would probably answer back, "It is the biggest thing to happen in publishing." Why is this? Because it has made designing and printing electronic and printed documents easier, more accessible and much more profitable.
A case in point: just consider the printed book. If I were to submit my book to a big name publisher, they would take most of the profits, leaving a meager dollar or so per copy for me. To this you might counter, "If you sold one million books, you would make one million dollars, but best selling books don't come along every day. By using desktop publishing, I can make a lot more profit on my book, plus I own the rights to it. So instead of making $1 per book, I can make $14 per copy. Quite an increase in profits wouldn't you say.
To answer your question: "What is desktop publishing," it is software that allows you to design a newsletter, poster, brochure, flyer, book, ebook, blog or web site. All you need is a computer, the software and a little bit of technical know-how.
During the time of author, Mark Twain, the complexity of the publishing process required highly skilled individuals and big machines. Publishing was expensive and in the book world, big name publishers got to choose which content would get published and which would never see the light of day.
So, how did desktop publishing start? In 1985, the first computerized layout program to use WYSIWYG technology was introduced. (WSIWYG means What You See Is What You Get. Loosely translated, this means that what you see on the screen will print on the printer.) It was named MacPublisher and ran on the original 128K Macintosh computer. Soon after it was released, the Apple Laser Writer printer was developed to print out high quality renditions of designs made with MacPublisher. Since that time, people have been asking "what is desktop publishing," so they could begin to understand how to create their own designs at home.
Following the success of MacPublisher, software maker, Aldus, introduced the high-end software package called PageMaker which quickly became the standard software for desktop publishing. Aldus PageMaker rapidly gained prominence, especially with newspaper and magazine owners who were using the more expensive commercial phototypesetting machines to produce documents. They were so popular that credit for the term "desktop publishing" is given to the software corporation's founder Paul Brainerd for successfully marketing information about this software.
These successes were followed by a flurry of printers and software applications. Adobe Systems released the LaserWriter, LaserWriter Plus printers, Adobe PostScript and its latest creation, Adobe InDesign. Macintosh II, Linotronic and Ventura Publishers were also introduced along with other simpler software and printers.
Now that you have an answer to "what is desktop publishing," ask how you can use it in your life. This useful application can be used from everything to creating simple cards and letterhead stationery, to publishing a book that you wrote to starting your own desktop publishing business and designing print and electronic documents for people in your area or even worldwide.
Too bad Mark Twain didn't live to see this life-changing development. His independent spirit would have thrived as he discovered the many uses for desktop publishing software.