David Robb

Taken as a technology, not a business sector, e-commerce is an unmitigated success. As Industry analyst Eliot Harper tells it, the birth of e-commerce can be traced to 1986 and Henry Freedman's "829" patent—a pioneering invention allowing for the interconnection of printing requesters to printing facilities on telecommunications networks (visit www.henryfreedman.com). "However, we started to witness the real introduction of print dot-com providers in 1999 at Seybold in Boston, when we saw Collabria, Impresse and others springing up," said Harper, on staff with WhatTheyThink, Lexington, Ky. "There were a total of nine new dot-com companies at this show. Today, there are more than

An outbreak of online print solution providers offers an opportunity for convenience—as well as the potential for confusion By Eric Fiedler Just five years ago, electronic commerce was an obscure, futuristic idea. Today, it is everywhere. Five years from now, we may wonder how we ever did business without it. In two years alone, approximately 30 start-up print e-commerce services have been launched or have announced their intention to launch.Services vary significantly, but the most prominent ones provide collaborative tools to facilitate project management between printers and print buyers. Generally, the services enable printers and print buyers to interact through a secure Web site and exchange information about

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