CenterLine, April/May, 1981  Cover by John Casado

John Dunn founder of Time Arts, Inc. and developer of Lumena, Via Video’s System One among other ventures.

Betsy Radford (the group founder) and David Healy at San Francisco MacWorld 1985


David’s History with Computer Graphics & Desktop Publishing

David’s involvement with computer graphics, desktop publishing, people he met, events he hosted and ­opportunities that he either seized, squandered or some combination of the two.


David learned how to type on a Compugraphic 7500 Editwriter typesetting system. Yes, it is a rather large and expensive ($25,000) typewriter to learn how to type on but it was available to David in his place of employment which was Syntex in Palo Alto. He went on to learn about typesetting and became a better typist and typesetter while he worked at Community Type & Design in Fairfax, CA. The proprieter, Howard Jacobson provided a bounty of guidance in the art of proper typesetting.

Screen of the Compugraphic 7500


David had recently moved his office from the basement of the house he shared in Bernal Heights (32 Elsie Street, that Boz Skaggs had lived in the 60’s, or so the story goes) to the corner of a graphic design studio  run by Nina Bredt and Donna Delario named, Elán Graphic Resources on Howard Street near Sixth Street in San Francisco.

In the new space he had access to a Compugraphic 7500 typesetting system, (this is pre-desktop publishing) and a large format stat camera.

David’s first client was the Center for Design that had just moved from Palo Alto to San Francisco. For the Center David was the sole designer, art director, typesetter, stat shooter, paste-up artist and print coordinator for their publication, Centerline.

CenterLine, June/July, 1981 Cover art by Scott KimFor the cover of the second issue David used a piece created by Scott Kim. Scott’s graphic piece is an inversion (a word you could read both right side up and upside down) of the word, “Infinity”. In this case the word, “Infinity” was repeated in a spiral. At that time Scott was working with John Warnock and Chuck Geschke at Xerox Park in Palo Alto. They had a page description language called, “JaM”. Scott used JaM to create his “Infinity” piece. John and Chuck had tried to interest Xerox in further developing this language but Xerox was not interested so they quit Xerox and started Adobe and changed the name of the language to, “PostScript”. (Chuck Bigelow has a spiral sample using the language DDL 1986).



To keep tabs on what was transpiring with computer graphic technology, David went to a number of Graphics Gathering meetings. This was a group of Stanford students and other interested individuals that would get together to present new things that were being developed. Some of the people: Glenn Entis and Carl Rosendahl went on to start Pacific Data Images which was subsequently purchased by Dreamworks. Other attendees included: Scott Kim, Howard Pearlmutter, Robin Samuelson, Bob Ishi, Mark Burstein and a host of others.

Another group named, Ylem was started around the same time by Trudy Myrrh Reagan. Ylem’s by-line is Artists Using Science & Technology. Starting in 1984 David produced nine newsletters for Ylem. Many of the same people would attend both the Graphics Gathering and Ylem meetings.

Ampex AVA Painting SystemOne of these people was Glenn Entis who worked at Ampex on the development of  the Ampex AVA CAD/CAM computer painting system. The AVA was a $200,000 system. Glenn invited David to stop by Ampex and gave him a demonstration of the system and let him use the system.



Scott Kim’s description of the history of JaM/PostScriptWhen I was a graduate student at Stanford University I had the pleasure of working with John Warnock at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. I was interested in computers and graphic design, and John’s page description language JaM (for authors John Warnock and Martin Newell, who created JaM before Xerox at University of Utah) was just my cup of tea. I produced many designs in JaM, including my book Inversions and the Silicon Graphics logo. John even wrote me some special transformations for mapping designs onto spirals and spheres.JaM became the basis of Xerox’s internal page description language Interpress, but as with so many inventions from Xerox PARC, they refused to take full advantage of it. So John, along with Chuck Geschke, left Xerox and founded Adobe Systems, where JaM developed into PostScript. PostScript, along with the Apple LaserWriter and Aldus PageMaker, went on to become an industry standard and revolutionize the graphic arts industry. The ultimate irony is that now Xerox has to support PostScript.http://www.scottkim.com/inversions/gallery/warnock.html

Through connections made at the Graphics Gathering David got a free-lance job creating illustrations and animations to show off the features of Via Video’s - System One. This was one of the very first commercially available computer painting systems.

The primary programmer responsible for the Via Video - System One was John Dunn who was one of Atair’s first game developers. In 1982, John Dunn founded the company Time Arts Inc. in Glen Ellen (California, USA) to produce the  EASEL and then the Lumena computer graphic systems.

Via Video - System OneThe System One operated in two modes: an eight-color palette mode or a sixteen-color palette mode. Yes, an entire palate of either 8 or 16 colors. The only problem with the sixteen-color mode was that is was dramatically slower than the eight-color mode which was mind numbingly slow. On top of that it was very low resolution. But at the time there was nothing else like it at the bargain price of $25,000 (maybe is was $45,000).

One the animated illustrations David created on the System One.


In December of 1982 David had heard about Adobe being founded and in early 1983 he met with John Warnock at their new offices in Mountain View. David doesn’t remember what they talked about other than David’s interest in the potential of this new technology.

Chuck Geschke and John Warnock founders of Adobe.Image from Insidet the Publishing Revolution: The Adobe Story, by Pamela Pfiffner

In 1983 David heard about two different CAD-CAM programs that were being developed. One was called Mini-CAD and the other was AutoCAD. Both programs were being developed locally so David had meetings with the developers of each of these programs. David was given a demonstration of Mini-CAD at the developer’s house in the Richmond District in San Francisco.

On May 12, 1983, David stopped by Rik Jadrnicek’s house on a ridge with a view of Mt. Tam in Mill Valley, CA. Rik had a microcomputer consultant business and had written an article for Byte Magazine about CAD software. Rik gave David an in-depth demo of the program, AutoCAD and its impressive capabilities running on a Victor 9000 computer.

Rik’s house had the same view of Mt. Tam that the house that David grew up in had except from a higher altitude. David mentioned this and found out that Rik had previously been a real estate agent and had handled the sale of David’s grandfather’s house (next door to David’s) after his grandfather had passed away in April of 1977.

The first version of AutoCad was based on a program called MicroCAD written in 1981 by Mike Riddle. Auto-Cad was being developed by sixteen people including John Walker who was also a resident of Mill Valley. Autodesk was founded in April of 1982. John had been running a company named, Marinchip Systems and become CEO of the newly founded company.

At this time David was considering getting a PC. Mick Wiggins, a great illustrator, had invited him to come over to PCWorld to experiment with a painting program that they were reviewing. David was excited by the potential of this technology which was now becoming more affordable.

In October of 1983 David called Fred Davis who at the time was the editor of A+ magazine for the Apple II computer. Fred proceeded to tell David all about a system that Apple was going to be coming out with in early 1984. David decided to wait to see what this new system would do.

Fred went on to become the editor for MacUser magazine. In 1988 Fred invited David to be part of a project with Dan Shafer who was one of the early HyperCard gurus. In addition to being a computer expert, Fred is also an accomplished musician and an expert about orchids.


The Macintosh was introduced and David was immediatley captivated by the possibilities. Many other were as well including Betsy Radford who founded  the first Macintosh Users Group by calling a meeting at Fort Mason. Over a hundred people showed up at this first meeting of which only a very small minority of the attendees actually had a Macintosh. David joined immediatly producing the newsletter. The name was changed from MacMeet to showpage the very first Macintosh Users Group*. showpage was started before the infamous BMUG (Berkeley Macintosh Users Group).

showpage - the First Mac User Group(initially named, MacMeet, San Francisco Macintosh Users Group)User Groups Sprout Signal 12, May 1984Groups of users seem to be springing up all over the place. The first organization to come to our attention was the Macintosh Users Group in San Francisco, which was formed eight days after the Mac was introduced by Apple. Attendance hit 80 at the group’s second meeting on March 26th, 1984 which included gatherings of ten special interest groups. Their plans include an electronic bulletin board, a “National Gallery” of public domain Mac graphics, and sales of blank disks, public software, and other goods. A newsletter called MacMeet is already in production and was scheduled to grow to eight pages this month.The second user group we discovered is one being formed by Louis Aversano for Mac users in the New York and New Jersey area.source: http://www.macmothership.com/lisacontent/signal/Signal12_May1984.htmlThis also appears in a PDF for Apple Lisa Info in Semaphore Signal Magazine • Issues 1-28 • 1983-1986 • 30/272Bill Reefer, editor, writer, ad sales and provocateur extraordinaireAfter the first tiny issues entitled, MacMeet Bill Reefer joined as editor and the name was changed to showpage. Bill was also the primary ad salesman and an effective one at that until he was snagged by MicroTimes. David produced 20 issues of showpage from the first issue of March 1984 until the group was disbanded in May 1986. Being one the very first newsletters for a Macintosh Users Group showpage had a world wide circulation.

(OK, they had a few subscribers in foreign countries).

Ed Vaillencourt and David Healy man the ShowPage booth next to the BMUG booth at the first MacWorld Feb. 21-23, 1985, Brooks Hall, San Francisco

April 1985 cover of showpage, Photo of Bill Atkinson at a showpage meeting where he demonstrated MacPaint, MacWrite and host of other Mac capabilities.  - photo by David HealyThis was the first issue utilizing the Apple Laserwriter. Previous issues had been produced on David's Apple ImageWriter printer. He then shot stats of the galleys off the ImageWriter reducing them by 75% to improve the quality.

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David’s desk at 1044 Howard Street ≈1984. On the desk is his 128k Mac and an ImageWriter to the left. Note the Jackson Pollock style painting on the floor. This was inspired by Sherry, David's girlfriend now wife and executed by the pair. The paint took a long time to dry. David breathed fumes which might explain David. As of 2013 he is still sitting at the desk at the right. Whoa! TMI


Larry Goldman = Programmer ExtraordinaireIn 1984 I met Larry through showpage. Larry is an incredible programmer and has his own company, AllStar Computing.Previously Larry had set up a computerized scoreboard for the Oakland A’s baseball team at the Oakland Colesium on an Apple II computer.He moved to the Apple Lisa when it came out.In 1985 when I was preparing the Necessary Edge-Desktop Publishing conference I recruited Larry to put the letters of the conference title in perspective in postscript on use on the poster and other related collateral. Yes, it had to be in perspective and you could use drop shadows so I had to use drop shadows.In 1986 I was approached by Julian Systems to design their corporate identity. There were several divisions that made up Julian Systems, and an image was necessary that reflected this diversification.I developed a three dimensional logo so that each division could have its own view of the logo.Once again I hired Larry to develop a program to do this. Larry had done other programming for me and is quite an innovator. He had designed and operated the first computerized scoreboard for the A’s. This was run on an Apple II.Larry designed the program so that you could specify how you wanted to view the logo on an X, Y or Z axis. A window gave you a preview of that particular view. It also had a window to generate the PostScript code for the view of your choosing.Keep in mind that this is in 1986. The Macintosh had only been out for about a year and for graphic applications you had only MacPaint, MacDraw, MacDraft and a very few other unsophisticated programs. These programs were certainly limited in their capabilities and there was nothing like this available except on very expensive proprietary systems and even on those the graphics were not vector based like as in PostScript. http://www.allstarcomputerservices.com/

Starting in March of 1984 David produced (i.e.; typeset, shot stats, pasted-up and printed) nine issues of Ylem. By coincidence, for the first issue David used a work by Scott Kim entitled, “Waver” for the cover, shown below.



This op-art image was commissioned as an illustration for John Pierce’s recent book, “The Science of Musical Sound”. In the published version the undulating waves extend all the way across the image. In this version however a software bug caused the image to get stuck, much like a broken record, leaving a shower of parallelograms instead of flowing lines. The effect is not what I originally had in mind, but just as optically active. This piece was produced in the programming language, JaM* and printed on a high resolution laser printer (880 dots/inch) at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center.

– Scott Kim   March 1984                                                 * JaM became PostScript


Issues of Ylem produced by First Image (aka: Healy Design)

March 1984 6 pages

May 1984 8 pages   Mathematics in Art

July 1984  8 pages   Depths of Time and Space

September 1984 8 pages   Up in Lights

November 1984 6 pages   “The Notion of Motion”

January 1985 8 pages   Making Data Real

March 1985  8 pages   Designing for Thinking

June 1985 8 pages   Prestidigitation

August 1985 10 pages   Life (The first issue produced with Desktop Publishing technology)


With the release of the Apple LaserWriter David decided to interview the font designer, Sumner Stone who had converted all of the fonts into PostScript for the LaserWriter. These fonts included: Helvetica, Times, Palatino, Zapf Dingbats, Courier (help me here I don't recall them all).

Sumner oversaw font conversion at Adobe for many years. He has also designed many of his own fonts including: Stone Sans, Stone Humanist, Stone Informal, Bodoni Twelve and Bodoni Seventy-Two

David Healy (right) interviews Sumner Stone at the Adobe offices. March 1985.

photo by Phil Carter.

David saw an article in Seybold about Aldus and their new program, PageMaker. David called Paul Brainerd, the president of Aldus and became a beta-site for PageMaker.

A beta-site is someone who uses a program in development or an upgrade to a program and reports back with any problems or bugs with the program to help trouble shoot the program before it is released to the unsuspecting public.

PageMaker was a test of patience to use for its first year or so. When your document became the least bit complex it would take forever to save. PageMaker would crash and when you tried to open the same document you would discover that the document was corrupted and unusable. So you had to save the document with a different file name on a 400K floppy disk. Yes, a very slow process.

On July 5, 1985 David went to the Aldus office on Pioneer Square in Seattle and interviewed Paul for an article for showpage. The office for Aldus had two or three rooms for a staff of maybe six people

Paul Brainerd at the Aldus office on Pioneer Square in Seattle, WA- photo by David Healy  July 5, 1985

In the October 14, 1985 issue of the San Francisco Examiner John Markoff interviewed David for an article entitled, New market for Apple’s Mac - Small-time publishers produce slick publications with computer. The article reviewed the advent of Desktop Publishing. David’s inspired quote was, “The sky is the limit”.


On February 13, of 1986 David hosted the First Desktop Publishing conference entitled, The Necessary Edge: Desktop Publishing.

In 1986, for the task of typesetting, Seybold, (the conference machine) had not accepted Desktop Publishing as being a viable alternative. Frank Romano, the editor of TypeWorld (an industry tabloid) kept busy editorializing about how Desktop Publishing would never compete with traditional typesetting.

Sensing the limited time in which to act, David Healy decided to host a conference, which he entitled, The Necessary Edge - Desktop Publishing.

This first meeting-of-the-minds for this exciting new technology featured the luminaries at the forefront of the new technologies.

David invited twenty-three speakers he knew of that had pivotal involvement with this new technology. These speakers enlightened 300 attendees to the potential of this new technology.

The conference commenced at 8:30am and continued until 8:30pm at Fort Mason in San Francisco. Lunch and dinner were catered by La Mediterraine.

Building A, Conference Center, Fort Mason, San Francisco


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Attendees also received a 52-page conference program which included articles about: The Apple LaserWriter, PostScript, PageMaker, MacPublisher, ReadySetGo, Do It, Imagen, Designing Fonts, JustText, Linotonic and more.

In an ajoining hall were 24 computers (Mac & PC) and five printers including 18 Macintoshes and 3 LaserWriters that Apple had loaned for attendees to experiment with.

The day started with seven presentations. These presentations gave an overview of this new technology from PostScript (the language responsible for Desktop Publishing), a review of Digital Fonts, Desktop Publishing applications, and the computer hardware necessary.

These were followed by three separate panel discussions: Page Composition Software, Industry Applications and Digital Font Design.

Attendees also received a 52 page journal covering the many aspects of this new technology. First ­Image produced this journal in the just released and very unstable PageMaker 1.

Event Organizers         photo by Matt Farruggio  12/1985L to R:Larry Goldman Programmer Extraordinaire & Tech. AdvisorSanborn Hodgkins Assistant Planner, Editor and AuthorDavid Healy InstigatorOther essential personal:Sherry Thomas-Healy Editor, Director, People MoverDarren Thomas AV Specialist, Technical Advisor, and all around technical whiz. 

In May of 1986 David was asked by the Computer Arts Institute in Corte Madera to be their first instructor for the use of the Macintosh and Desktop Publishing. They only had one Macintosh, so David would pack his two Macs and his 80lb. Apple LaserWriter into his '69 VW bug and drive from San Francisco to Corte Madera to teach the class. The administration asked the students to bring their own. It was a tad meager for the first couple of classes.

Around this time David had given up on PageMaker for the time being and started doing his desktop publishing in a program called, JustText. JustText was entirely code based. No WYSIWYG. The code was very similar to typesetting code but it also allowing to go directly into programming in PostScript. This allowed the programmer to create graphics in code.

JustText had been developed by William Bates. David visited him at his flat/studio in Greenich Village in New York City when Adobe had sent David to New York to demonstrate Illustrator at the Seybold Conference in 1987.

With JustText you could produce high-quality typesetting with proper tracking, kerning and word-spacing, which none of the desktop publishing applications could do at the time.Coming from a background of working on dedicated type systems working in code was a very familiar environment for David. JustText allowed you to control tracking and kerning so you could set type that was indistinguishable from a high-end typesetting system. This set it apart from any of the Desktop Publishing applications which were immedialty distinguished by the lack of any  tracking or kerning and awful word spacing of the text.

In JustText, besides the typesetting code you could also enter PostScript programming directly for any graphics you wished to produce. You still had to do it in code which was still daunting, but you could create great gradients.

A program to make the creation of graphics was in order, so David utilized the wonders of MacPaint to create some screen shots of what he thought a vector-based illustration program should look like. In mid 1986 David sent a letter with his ideas to Liz Bond, who was the first head of marketing at Adobe. Adobe seemed perfectly suited to develop such a program.

David named the program, “Freehand PostScript”. Unfortunately David didn’t consider reserving the name because shortly thereafter Jim Von Ehr of Altsys developed a similar illustration program named, “Freehand”. Altsys was subsequently purchased by Aldus (PageMaker), Aldus was bought by Macromedia and then Macromedia was bought by Adobe.


Liz, informed David that Adobe was developing a program much like the one he had described and invited him to be a beta-site for their new application which became to be named, Illustrator.

David in his office at 1044 Howard Street, San Francisco. ≈1986




January of 1987 David launched a new incarnation of showpage as The Desktop Publishing Resource. showpage as a name has the programming significance of being the command code in PostScript that tells the program to send that particular document to the printer for printing.

Having been a beta site for Adobe for Illustrator gave FIRST IMAGE the advantage of publishing one of the very first reviews of this exciting new program when it was launched at MacWorld in January of 1987. Adobe bought 5000 copies of showpage magazine for distribution.

David was among the few that had first-hand experience with Illustrator and so he was hired by Adobe to demo the program at several conferences including: Type-X (New York, April 9-11, 1987) Sacramento Ad Club (Sacramento, CA Feb. 24, 1987, Lehigh University, Fritz Lab (Bethlehem, PA, Feb. 4, 1987) and the Desktop Publishing Show (Princeton, NJ, Feb. 3, 1987).

After teaching a couple of classes there I was asked to help set up the computer lab and teach the Macintosh Essentials and Desktop Publishing classes at the Art Academy of San Francisco.

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