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July 1972

Early Printing in Dermatology

Author Affiliations

Tacoma, Wash

From the Department of Medicine (Dermatology), University of Washington, Seattle, and the Department of Dermatology, University of Oregon, Eugene.

Arch Dermatol. 1972;106(1):112-116. doi:10.1001/archderm.1972.01620100092026

Scientific communication has depended on the printing press since its invention over 500 years ago. The design of the letter, casting, typesetting, and imprint—integral segments of the printers art—remained essentially unchanged from the discovery of movable type in 1455 to the founding of the American Dermatological Association in 1876. Jean Astruc's popular 18th century dermatological textbook, De Morbis Venereis, provided a classic model to examine early printing techniques. The step-by-step development of the early editions of De Morbis Venereis furnished a detailed study of printers' methods which instilled new respect for these artisans. Modern electronic printing methods have improved the speed of production and have challenged the concept of the textbook as the storehouse of scientific thinking. Despite these advances, computer printing still attempts to copy the form and style of early printers.

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