BarneyScan 35mm Scanner

Now that I had been given a budget to buy OEM digital products, some of them were starting to arrive in early 1989. BarneyScan was the first to market with a desktop 35mm scanner aimed at desktop publishing. About the size of a small breadmaker, it was a pretty simple unit. Connecting it to the Mac was NOT. It turns out it used a somewhat obscure interface in the desktop world, called a GPIB ("gee-pib") which stands for General Purpose Interface Bus. Fortunately, a GPIB card was included with the scanner.

The BarneyScan really was a poor quality scanner. The lens was not very sharp, and focusing was really a chore. You had to adjust the focus with a thumbwheel, then let it rescan the image again, and then based on the result adjust the thumbwheel some again, rinse and repeat. It was very frustrating to work with. (Amazingly, Kodak's first scanner suffered from the same flaws, despite my input.) With the BarneyScan scanner, I could create some high resolution scans to play with. We were in the early stages of development of a large format color thermal printer, and needed a way to digitize images for testing. One issue we had to deal with, was the fact that the Mac II only had a maximum of 8mb of RAM at that time. The printer required images of 9mb to fill the 8x10" image buffer and 12mb to fill the 10 x 10" image buffer. The Mac imaging programs of the day couldn't access enough RAM memory to load and display images of these sizes. Fortunately, despite it's other flaws, BarneyScan's included proprietary software, BarneyScanXP, provided an answer. That solution was a virtual memory buffer, which used a hard drive to store whole or parts of the image temporarily. BarneyScanXP was a pretty amazing color image editing program. Most monitors were still only 8-bit, so the program used a very fast screen dithering technique to simulate full color images, providing a more accurate display. Unfortunately, the BarneyScan image editing software couldn't be used without the card installed in the computer, or I would have put the software on the computer I had on my desk, rather than in my lab. I truly believed in the future of digital photography now!

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