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A 200-page special edition of Scientific American that last week hit newsstands made print history even as it reported science history-claiming to be the first complete computer-to-plate magazine production printed without using film.

In an experiment that could have major impact on the magazine and advertising industry, the 300,000-copy "The Computer in the 21st Century" used electronic copy from a desktop publishing system and 21 pages of electronic advertising from sole sponsor Apple Computer that was produced by BBDO Worldwide, Los Angeles, provided on tape.

The special issue was printed by R.R. Donnelley & Sons without a single negative ever being produced.

"I love the new technology. This has got to be a better way of living," said Richard Sasso, Scientific American's associate publisher and VP-production.

While Mr. Sasso conceded the new technology is not yet cheaper than the normal production process, he said ads and pictures looked better because there was one less step.

Mr. Sasso said he expects to continue producing sections of the magazine direct-to-plate, but sees advertisers and agencies overcoming their insistence on contact proofs from color negatives as key to the process winning industry acceptance.

"This is transitional," said Mr. Sasso. "It is a new way of publishing magazines that will be better for the advertiser, the reader, be more timely and more beautiful. It will not happen overnight."

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