CMI Business Communications

“Can you operate the DOS prompt?”

The day I started at CMI business Communications was the day I dropped almost 20 years of dabbling, schooling and professional work in the field of Photography.

They didn’t want to hire me, weren’t going to hire me. I wasn’t qualified in any sort of way. They didn’t call me back until months later when two of their people quit in one week. When they did call I couldn’t remember who they were. When we met I was grilled with the question “can you operate the DOS prompt”. Like a criminal under the hot light, I finally said yes because well I did know how to type “wordstar” at the command prompt! I was hired and seated in a room with 6 Macs, 3 PC’s, 3 digital film recorders, a bunch of printers, modems, scanners and some 24+ Multimedia software packages. Thankfully I had seen and used a DOS prompt a few times on a roommates Compaq Lunchbox in college. They didn’t fire me and I learned a hell of a lot in my 4.5 years with CMI.

CMI was a wild little place, once a gleaming light in it’s field I joined as the firm struggled with the amazing changes the personal computer had brought to their field of Presentations, charts and graphics. A mix of old typesetters and the new computer aware desktop publishers. Hell they were once called Chartmasters, which may mean something to those old enough to remember charts and graphs and type setting machines and such.

Well the awful and hated PC was making inroads into their little world of Persuasion, Illustrator and Photoshop and they needed someone who wasn’t scared of the prompt. They feared their machines like they came from another planet and might leave at any moment if disturbed – “Don’t turn off the monitor at night, it’ll turn the machine off!”

I was in awe for about a year, then I started tearing the computers apart, started tweaking the systems, fixing the hardware, repairing and upgrading. Before I knew it I wasn’t the graphic artist I had hoped to become. I’d become the resident computer guy, and thus a career was born.

Here’s some of the gear we used to output files:

Zenographics SuperPrint Super – Meta File output for film recorders and printers


VBS Visual business systems – Postscript interpreter

Managment Graphics – digital film recorders

Tektronix – Dye Sublimation printers

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