Los Angeles Graphic Design way back in the day before computers and desktop publishing. Here is a peek into the past.
At this point in time, if I were a betting person, I would have bet there would be an invention that replaced the setting of type, one letter at a time. Sure enough, a gentleman by the name of Mergenthaler invented something called the Linotype machine. If you have never seen one of these machines in action, let me explain it this way.
First of all, the design and operation of the machine had to be the result of an amazing nightmare. Don’t get me wrong, the thing was a giant jump from the one-at-a-time hand typesetting at the time. It had a keyboard more or less like a typewriter, a pot to melt the lead for forming the line and a large number of letter molds called matrices, which were returned to their proper positions after the line was set. How this was done I have never quite figured out.
Somehow the “line of type” was cast in hot metal and delivered to a holding tray. From there it went to the composing room where the linotype slugs were assembled to form the page.
The composing room set up the page for either letterpress or lithography. For letterpress, the typesetting went to the printing press. For litho, a reproduction proof was sent to either the camera (if it was camera ready) or to the art department if it required pasteup.
This typesetting monster was typesetting du jour from the 1800’s to the 60’s and 70’s before being mostly replaced by computers.
As you might imagine, this is only a very, very small sample of what the Linotype could accomplish as well as how and what it took to accomplish it.About the Author: Don Weston Started working in the printing industry over 50 years ago and remains the mentor of the owner of Weston Graphics, Inc. See more articles by Mr. Weston HERE. Read about the Author HERE. Related Posts