If you were lucky enough to own both a desktop computer and a dot-matrix printer back in the ‘80s, it’s likely you also dabbled in desktop publishing using a classic app called The Print Shop. Once lost to time, like many classic apps that ran on ancient hardware, The Print Shop has been resurrected in the browser so you no longer need to pay for Adobe InDesign.
Originally developed by David Balsam and Martin Kahn and published, in 1984, by Broderbund Software (a name that anyone who grew up with a computer in the ‘80s was familiar with) The Print Shop first debuted on the Apple II but was such a huge hit that it was eventually ported to other personal computers of the era, including the Commodore 64, and anything that could run Microsoft’s MS-DOS.
Although impossibly simple by today’s desktop publishing standards, its ease-of-use is what made The Print Shop so popular, as users could combine clipart, custom text, and other pixelated adornments in minutes to create custom signage, cards, and even banners, thanks to the printer paper of the era being just one long sheet of perforated paper. The app was also a great selling tool for personal computers which, at the time, didn’t have a lot of practical applications aside from games, word processing, or spreadsheets.
If you have fond memories of the app like I do, instead of digging out your old Apple II or C64 and trying to hunt down a replacement ribbon for a printer that hasn’t been used in 30 years, just point your browser to Melody and April Ayres-Griffiths’ loving online recreation of The Print Shop which emulates the original Apple II version of the app.
Although my own memories of using The Print Shop are ever-fading, the online redux appears to be a perfect clone of the original, right down to the flashing “THINKING” and “PRINTING” screens you were presented with after sending your creation to the printer. I can remember the app taking so long to process and print that it thoroughly exhausted the limited patience of eight-year-old me, who would go and watch TV in another room until our extremely loud dot-matrix printer finally came to life. (The color Star NX-1000C, which I’m not sure why my brain prioritized as a critical thing to remember.)
Although the emulated version of The Print Shop doesn’t directly send designs to a modern printer, it does generate a downloadable PDF file that you can easily print after the fact. My mother’s birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks, and I just know she’s going to love this green, blue, yellow, and orange bespoke card I spent an entire ten minutes on. (No one spoil the surprise, please.)