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Utterly mesmerizing. Gutenberg would have an orgasm. What a wonder of technology the Linotype was.
Note that the metallurgy -- the lead, antimony, and tin used to form letters -- is similar to the formula Gutenberg himself devised.
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I went to a hot type shop here in Los Angeles a few years back when I was taking a printing processes class at UCLA. There was a big room full of trays of letters in many fonts and sizes. They made a slug of my name for me. That technology, and letterpress are so viscerally cool. Went to a letterpress shop, too. I wonder if either of those are still in operation...?
how wonderful. we had half a dozen linotype machines in the basement of the house I was born in. it was a big house. the basement was a formal printing press. my father, and his father before him, were journalists and publishers. this takes me back. thank you +Jeff Jarvis
+JP Rangaswami Wow: those clattering, alive robots in your own home. Better than Hugo!
I am privileged that I came into newspapering before hot type died so I got to experience that as well as the advent of phototypesetting.
I was already a type geek but became more so when I studied Gutenberg's history for my latest book. It yielded this Kindle Single on Gutenberg as the original technology entrepreneur:
I have 3 small presses and 3 cabinets of type. This is SO much easier than setting individual letters by hand! I wish I had the room for one. And yes, Gutenberg would probably have an orgasm. And then start typing out as many slugs as he could! ;)
Looks complicated. It would be a lot simpler to just get a laser printer.
I haven't seen one since I was little My grandma had a weekly paper in Morro Bay, in the early '60's. Everything was done that way there. I used to feed it the lead "pigs", and as it stacked up in the tray, I took it over to run a proof copy for her. I was always amazed at how such an odd looking machine would spit out the lines of type(hence the name), with all the belts and wheels, and things moving every which way. These days, most people wouldn't know what you're talking about. I sure do miss my summers working there. I was 9 the last time I was there. She sold the paper that last time, 1964, and The Coast Beacon no longer exists. I also remember those stupid little things falling out of the machine from time to time. I wasn't big enough to put them back in, but, would pick them up for the operator to put back in.
Fascinating. I can now bid for an old Linotype machine on eBay, safe in the knowledge that this video will help me resolve any mechanical glitches.
Simply amazing! I wonder how much time it took to design, engineer and produce? Also, how much do you think it cost to build and maintain one of these?
That was surprisingly mesmerizing. I meant to watch a minute or two and the next thing I knew it was over. Ironically, it doesn't seem to require much power as it is mostly run by a relatively small motor.
Awesome :) My personal favorites were justification using wedges, sorting using patterns of teeth and synchronized step-by-step operations using various cams on a shaft :)
That was my Grandfathers profession, now I have a much better idea of what he did all those years, thanks're the man!
I read your Kindle single about Gutenberg. I learned a lot about how the first published books were produced.
Awesome!! Now I know what I'm gonna watch tonight. Thanks Jeff and Lauren!
I learned to use a Linotype in High School shop class 46 years ago. I have not touched one since. A shame, the machine was a wonder.
I cant imagine being a service guy for this machine. Would need a bus load of parts!..The service manual would require a two wheeler lol
Wonderful... I still have the smell of hot metal in my nose and the noise of sound of sliding plumb lines in my ears. And I am grateful for the privilege of having witnessed the glory years of mechanical typesetting in my early reporting years.
Jeff, I worked on a machine like that in high 1972. I learned a lot about type and how it works, and it gave me a deeper understanding when desktop publishing came along. Most people have never held type in their hands, or set type in a sentence. Once you do, you never looks at words the same again.
I remember my grandmother telling me about her days as a Linotype operator. The reversed 'm' and 'n' keys on the keyboard caused her trouble when using a typewriter. She was one of the few women tall and strong enough to lift the trays of slugs overhead and slide them into the top of the machine. (I hope my memory is accurate here. Many of our conversations were late at night when I was a child, since she then worked the 4pm to midnight shift as a proofreader at the Commercial Appeal in Memphis.) You have no idea how much I enjoyed seeing this video! If only I could have seen it in the 1960's when she was still living.
Not only have I seen a Linotype in action (And taken away a souvenir - my name in Linotype), but I used to use it on my Heidelberg platen Press.
To be honest I was a little freaked out by the open air lead/antimony melting pot. But the entire printing industry seems to be a race to see what mix of fumes one can fill the room with...
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