07.05.2012 cătălina zlotea
The second system of typesetting (individual characters) was patented by the Monotype Imaging Corporation, an American company specialised in typesetting and typeface design. As opposed to Linotype, Monotype produces type in individual characters. The machine is formed of two separate parts: the keyboard (with 120 keys) and the caster. Every time the operator presses a key, a hole is punched into a role of paper tape. After the entire text has been punched in, the role of tape is fitted to the caster and the series of holes are interpreted; the matrices for the corresponding typeface are then selected and injected with the molten alloy, thus producing the final composition.

The Monotype company opened a branch office in London in 1897, followed by a factory in Surrey that remained in operation for over a century. This explains why Monotype was so common in Great Britain and the colonies, while Linotype was more frequent in the US. Monotype was also commonly used in the typesetting of books, as it allowed for finer typesetting, optical letter spacing and an easier rectification of print errors. On the other hand, Linotype offered greater efficiency and speed on account of the lines of text being easier to handle.

Both systems came with their advantages and disadvantages, and in general the decision as to which system to use depended on the individual job in hand. In both cases, however, the metal alloy used to cast the letters was softer than that used in manual typesetting. Consequently, after every print run, the cast type would be melted down again, there being no need to return to type to the type case at the end. Sometimes, in the case of very large print runs, a copy would be made called a stereotype, in which the typeset text was pressed into a very fine matrix normally using the papier mâché technique.

The advent of hot metal typesetting represented the first major revolution in printing since the invention of movable type by Gutenberg in the 14th century. It allowed the printed word to become more accessible and information to be circulated easily and cheaply. Publication suddenly become an industrial processes and, as in the case of any mass produced object, the print quality was to suffer. The transition from hot type to the technologies we use today happened much faster, in the space of only a few decades. The majority of Linotype and Monotype machines were destroyed after being taken out of service and today can only be seen in museums.

2012 is the 125th anniversary of the first demonstration of a Linotype machine, and to mark the occasion the Linotype, The Film project was initiated with aim of producing a feature length documentary on the subject. You can read more about this here.

More pictures and videos with Linotype machine go to our Archive - GF VIDEO / GF PHOTO

cătălina zloteais a graphic designer specialized in the field of publication design and typography. She has a BA in Graphic Design from the University of Arts in Bucharest and a BA in Advertising from the University of Bucharest, Faculty of Journalism and Communication. In September 2010, she finished the MA Book Design at the University of Reading, Department of Typography and Graphic Communication.
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