The IDMi story: with twists and turns along the way, we look at the rich history of IDMi, how it progressed to 2017, and where it intends going in the future.
[Cue Star Wars Theme]
"A long time ago in a [begin strikethrough]galaxy[end strikethrough] country far, far away ..."
We could hardly NOT use that as an opening sequence to our review of the IDMi saga, especially given the image to the right which gives a big clue as to the origin year for IDMi. The magazine strap line also more than hints at the beginning--'Keeping You Informed Since 1969'.
Picture The Scene: May 1969
Stuffy warm office. Badler Group HQ, New York City. A youngish Mitchell Badler is beavering away preparing copy for a review of the microfilm industry.
Interestingly, although that early copy is dated May 1969, the tiny print at the foot of the page states 'effective September 1969'. But we will take May 1969 as being the first (known) issue of The Microfilm Newsletter (MN). Its 6-page format covered generally terse reports on the microfilm industry, and appeared to have been penned to coincide with the NMA (National Microfilm Association) Convention of that year.
Little did Mitch know at that time, that his (probably hand-cranked) duplicator-printed newsletter would continue to grow, and aspire to become an offset-litho printed magazine which at one point in its history as MN, reached 48 pages.
The issue for November 1969 sees the introduction of another name into MN, Rodd S. Exelbert. It is not known if Rodd was instrumental in helping Mitch with the earlier issues, but his name appears along with other signatories on the Market Performance of Selected Stocks page, a habit which persists until well into the 1970's, and covers a period where Dorothy Miceli also joined the duo as Circulation Manager.
In January 1978 the bulk of the newsletter copy was still being originated on j someone's trusty typewriter. But here there is a marked change of medium. Until this time, the industry-trusted tome had been produced on white paper. The story goes | however, that as circulation increased, the team looked to using an offset printer to produce the publication. To ensure costs were kept down, the printer offered MN the opportunity to use a bulk consignment of paper which had been ordered--but never used. The knock-down price was too much to miss out on, and from then on MN was printed on this bulk paper. It was green in colour, and over the years the nickname 'The Green Sheet was applied to MN. When further changes took place and MN merged with a UK publication in late 2001, the name 'The Green Sheet was used as an homage to the past title.
During the 1980's it is apparent from the text quality that something akin to the IBM Golfball or Brother electronic memory typewriter was being used for the text. Italicised type appears, and bold characters too (impossible to achieve on a 100 year old Imperial typewriter. Editorially, the team stuck to their long-term policy of keeping the text short, the range of articles wide-reaching, and the whole title remained 'newsy'.
By this time, the team have dropped the references to share prices, probably because the stock exchanges themselves were finding new ways to get up to the minute figures out into the marketplace. The BBC's CEEFAX text information service for example, and with the advent of TV channels such as Bloomberg also likely superseding information which in print, would have been quickly out of date.
The late 80's sees MN changing again. Now there is a mix of typewritten and typeset copy. It is possible the text originated on one of the latest single-strike ribbon typewriters, but it looks to be more of a typeset quality than that.
In those days, if you wanted something typeset, you had to go to a printers union approved typesetter. The would then retype your text into a typesetting machine and produce what they called a 'Bromide' for you to approve as the proof. That (expensive) bromide was then pasted onto a master page layout along with graphics if available, (also costly to reproduce in those days,) then finally a plate was made of the page and it was printed on an offset-litho machine. Today, that process is much, much simpler, thankfully less union-controlled, and of extremely high quality, (i.e. As with IDMi.)
The use of graphics is very sparse around this time, probably to save space, time and cost. Photos had to go through a special process to allow them to be printed as dots. This was also not a cheap option. By now the newsletter was regularly reaching more than 10 pages, and with the addition of pages covering an Imaging Technology Report, often exceeded 20 pages.
The October 1994 25th Anniversary issue of the Microfilm Newsletter explodes with full colour, graphics, and multiple ads. This was a one-off however, and MN returned to the green-paper format immediately afterwards.
In the mid to late 90's, there was the occasional appearance of graphics and the odd mug-shot of personalities from around the industry.
January 1997 gives the first acknowledgement of a departure from the core microfilm news format in a slight change of title. Now bearing the snappy name Micrographics and Hybrid Imaging Systems Newsletter, but in December 2001 the announcement was made that M&HSN was to merge with the UK publication The Micrographics Marketplace and a new full colour periodical was born--The Green Sheet.
Meanwhile: Somewhere In England
Step back again to September 1986. A new kid on the microfilm block is born. As far as magazines go, the micrographics market place (title all in lower case a la 'e. e. cummings',) was an unusual publication. Published by Themeprint Ltd., it was perhaps the worst-kept (microfilm) industry secret at the time, that the title was created not only as a vehicle to market and promote microfilm, its systems and consumables, but also to promote the excellent Microfilm Shop, who had a unique presence in the marketplace, and were owners of the publication, now known better as Genus.
The author recalls dealing with The Microfilm Shop in the 1980's, and that their customer service ethic and speed of processing orders was exceptional to say the least. One microfilm bureau operator at the time stated, "The consumables arrived almost before I had ordered them, The Microfilm Shop are that quick."
The underlying editorial of the MMP magazine was to also embrace new technologies as they came along, and to educate and re-educate on the subjects of COM, CAR, and other acronym-laden systems and processes of that time. Like The Microfilm Shop, The Micrographics Marketplace held a special place in the hearts of many in the UK and Europe microfilm and document management industries. An association which was to last until 2001, when the aforementioned merger with the M&HSN took place.
With the advantage of offset printing, a wide range of advertisers, and many interesting articles, this was a departure in format from the terse, newsy, but nonetheless VERY well respected US publication that was MN. The fact that the opening issue of The Micrographics Marketplace declared it intentions in 4 languages, (English, French, German, and Spanish,) is testimony to the aim to have it placed not only as a UK and European periodical, but with aspirations to reach further into the worldwide marketplace.
IDMi intend to republish some of the key articles over time, and then to update with an IDMi 'latest situation' equivalent. Should be interesting.
What's in a Name?
It may seem a somewhat innocuous name, but The Green Sheet has had at least a few title-related oddities. Apparently, a 'greensheet' is an internal marketing document that is compiled by a new (stocks and shares) issue's underwriter, which is intended for distribution to brokers and institutional sales desks of the underwriting firm. On a more humorous note, The inclusion of the word 'green' was enough to start unnecessary virtual alarm bells ringing at the UK HQ of Rolls Royce. The GS Editor (me) was discussing details of a potential a site visit to see how RR managed their technical drawings. Apparently the inclusion of the word 'green' in the title was enough to veto the visit! Ridiculous. Especially as RR actually had a copy of the magazine sent to the manager for review beforehand.
As with its recent incarnation as IDMi, TGS was always well-accepted as a good B2B source of information. With other IT/IM magazines then and now, there is a tendency to digress down into the weeds of communications, process management, project management and other subjects, but with the editorial of TGS firmly in the hardware/software/process camps of IM/DM and DC (Document Control) its readership was wide and as international as IDMi is today.
Time for a Change
Notwithstanding the name issues, when yours truly was at the helm of TGS as Managing Editor, it seemed a good time for a further change to update the course, diversity, and overall DNA of TGS. At the point of issue 53 of The Green Sheet, the new title of IDMi (Information & Document Management international) was confirmed. That was back in December 2008, and since then, IDMi has encompassed the editorial policies of all three of its predecessors. Something the magazine intends to continue to evolve with as the IM/DM industry evolves.
Let us not forget the resurgence of interest in microfilm. In a sense we could use that hackneyed term '2.0' and call it Microfilm 2.0 with all that is new, or has been updated, reinvented or otherwise regurgitated in the industry, but perhaps we will leave it there for IDMi to take you in to 2018 with renewed vigour.
by John Baker, IDMi Deputy Editor
John Baker, Deputy Editor, IDMi
For more information on IDMi and previous publications, or how to obtain access to the back-copies of all of our issues, please contact johnbakerdpidmionline.com.
The Numbers Game
UK comedian Vic Reeves once said, '82% of statistics are made up on the spot. ' but of course he may have made that % up. Anyway, here are some hard facts about the IDMi history, and if what follows doesn't make you query this being the 100th Issue, it is uncertain what will!
The Green Sheet
2009 to Date
So what IS the correct issue number for what you are reading? Well if you take the longest serving predecessor to IDMi, that would be the Microfilm Newsletter. Then add in The Green Sheet and IDMi issues, and you have 552 + 100, therefore, the ACTUAL issue which we have called Issue 100--is not in fact Issue 100 at all, it is lssue:652.
So there you are. You read it first in IDMi.
Caption: Used with the kind permission of NASA. Location unconfirmed.