The Pantone Story

by admin on March 20, 2012


History of Pantone

During the 1950s, Pantone made its breakthrough debut as a commercial printing company. Pantone was first introduced as a small business which created color cards for cosmetic companies through Pantone Guides, which were small cardboard sheets with color printing on one side. In 1956, the company hired Lawrence Herbert, a recent Hofstra University graduate, on a part-time basis. Through his advanced knowledge of chemistry, he created a plan to simplify and systematize the pigments possessed by Pantone in order to produce numerous colored inks.

Over the next six years, Herbert continued to master his production and by 1962, he was running a pure profit division for ink and printing at the Pantone headquarters located in Carlstadt, New Jersey. Although the commercial-display division at the company headquarters was nearly fifty thousand dollars in debt, he purchased the technological assets from the company and renamed the entire division Pantone. Herbert obtained fifty thousand dollars from a private loaner, who did not demand any part of the company in exchange for the money. In less than two years, Herbert created a partnership with twenty major ink producers, whom he wrote to and offered them the opportunity to license Pantone as a manufacturer for the systems inks. Through building relationships, Pantone was able to assist other printing companies in order to tackle numerous problems they were having. One company, Kodak, sought assistance from Pantone to create a fresh and attractive coloring system for their boxes in order to encourage purchasers to select any box, as the boxes previously used by Kodak would fade and leave dark lining on the shelves.

Leatrice-Eisenman Pantone

After the purchase, Herbert transformed the company by developing a color matching system. Pantone Color Matching System, more commonly referred to as PMS, expanded the existing color system known as CMYK- or cyan, magenta, yellow and black, which is the standardized method used for printing colors, to include an additional 15 base pigments in order to produce the majority of colors offered by Pantone. Although Pantone’s system allows for some colors to be simulated with CMYK, the majority of the 1,114 spot colors cannot be reproduced. The unique mixture created by Pantone allows special colors, such as metallic colors and fluorescents, to be produced. Pantone also created a system, enabling over 3,000 colors to be produced through the CMYK system.

The Pantone Color Matching System was created by Herbert with the idea of allowing designers to match specified colors when each design enters into its production phase. PMS has been adopted by Reproduction and Printing Houses as well as Graphic Designers for many years since its initial debut. Pantone is also one of the leading producers and service providers for over one hundred companies. They produce graphic arts, home and interior colors, plastics, paints, industrial design, architectural prints and other consumer market products.

In 1968, Pantone created the first of the Four-Color Process Guide as well as a Color Tint Selector for designers. By 1970s, digital coloring became one of the primary focuses of the company. In 1971, 3M signed on with Pantone, and Pantone quickly introduced the Letraset Color Markers. In 1974, Pantone took its first stab at the digital world by creating a Color Data System for computers. After 1977 when Herbert turned the company from a public company into a private company, the profit was unknown to most but, after the 1980s, the trade mark for Pantone was appearing on over $500 million worth of inks, art supplies and various other printing and art products in over fifty countries across the world.
Throughout the 1980s, Pantone continued to advance their technological partnerships and productions, and introduced Vio Video, LaserWare, Inc., and other Pantone software for IBM-PC and Apple platforms. During the 1990s, Pantone continued to build its digital platform through establishing partnerships as well as licensing agreements with Linotype-Hell, Serif, Gold Disk, Corel, Aldus, AGFA, Adobe, Quart, Ventura, MiltiAd Services, Deneba, and Bitstream.

In 2004, China Textile Information Center created a partnership with Panton to create a national color system in China. Xerox also partnered with Pantone to create a color reproduction system for digital press. In 2005, the United States Army adopted the color language from Pantone. Pantone also enlarged the size of their Color Guides by twenty-five percent to improve the quality of the color and create a more visually appealing product. In 2006, Pantone partnered up with GretagMacbeth to create an advanced color management system, as well as expanding several ink lines and improving the colors and digital image productions on monitors. In 2007, Pantone Inc was purchased by X-Rite Inc for $180 million.
As of 2008, Pantone has over 1,800 various colors. Lawrence Herbert retired from Pantone in 2008. Now, as part of X-Rite, a publicly traded company, Pantone is headed by Ron Potesky, who is SVP and GM.

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