Lying on my desk is Issue No. 17 of THE RHODOMAGNETIC DIGEST. From time to time, I pick it up gingerly (the cover might fall off, otherwise) and turn the pages fondly. This, I tell myself, is what we started out to do -- more than a year and a half and many wakeful nights ago.

Here, for the first time, every page in the magazine can be read without resort to the Cryptographer's Manual. The pages are filled with color, and the color, Allah be praised, is more or less where we intended it to be. The illustrations can, for the m ost part, be deciphered without undue strain, and some of the copy is even amusing and fun to read.

It is not, of course, as good a magazine as we are aiming for. But it does mark a breathing spot on the trail where we can sit a moment and look back over the long, long way we have come.

During the past year, we have changed from the large sized format to the smaller, very largely for reasons of economy. Paper is our biggest cost and the larger pages eat it up at an alarming rate. Someday, if we ever reach a break-even point, we'll thin k about going back to the big size; most of us liked it better and it was a lot easier to print. However there's an if in that sentence that will take some time to erase.

Last summer we bought a larger press and had to learn all over again how to print. We still haven't learned, but we are getting closer. We switched from paper plates to plastic and then from these to photo-plates, trying to find the best process we coul d afford. And this final move meant we had to learn how to do paste-ups and take pictures and process film and a lot of things we had never heard of doing before. All of these experiments could not be done in vacuo; unfortunately the magazine was our te sting ground and like a laboratory table, it bore the scars and stains of out trial and error methods. The trial and error period is not over, but we do not intend to repeat some of our mistakes, at any rate.

>From my standpoint, however, the most important change on the DIGEST in the last eight months was the aquisition of a staff big enough to handle it. For several issues, the DIGEST was a two person operation and you might say the operation was successful but the patient damn near died.

The last issue is the product of staff work. Gary Nelson did a very large amount of the work; typing, paste-ups, mounting negatives and running the press. George Finigan and Eric Ely did the Vari-typing of the copy; a tremendous, arduous job, and usuall y a thankless one. Both also helped mount negatives and opaque them; another thankless and painstaking job. Gladys Fabun read the copy -- not only the original contributions, but the rough type-up, the Vari-typing, the paste-ups, and finally the negativ es. She is still sane, but under a doctor's care.

For the fine art work in this issue, credit goes to Eliz Farmer, a virtual newcomer who has pitched in with a tremendous talent and vitality; Barbara Scott, who drew the excellent color page headings that were one of the features that came out most succes sfully; and to George Faraco, whose cover drawing (taken from the Little Men's Calendar) was the best we have run to date.

Finally, the generally higher level of the copy in Issue 17 was due to the fact that Les and Es Cole, in a burst of generosity, let us have articles that had originally been contributed to their own publication THE BIG "O". Greater love has no publisher.

I do not mean to overlook the contribution of those people who have turned up to assist in crucial moments nor those who suddenly creep out of the wood work to gather and fold the magazine. Their help is most appreciated. But the major part of the work on what is a fairly large publication for amateurs is being done by those mentioned above. With this bunch working, we can run LIFE right off the map.

Data entry by Judy Bemis

Data entry and page scans provided by Judy Bemis

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