Friday, November 12, 2010

An Ancient Machine Still At Work

The Linotype machine.

I know- many of you have never heard of it, let alone seen one. But it was a true second revolution in printing after the invention of movable type by Gutenberg. I came across this video teaser of a documentary on the Linotype. As I watched, I was transported back 50 years to the neighborhood where I grew up. Three doors up the street, out back where the rest of us had our garage, Mr. D. had a print shop. It was small and independent. I don't remember if he had anyone working for him or not. But it was filled with machines that are now antique.

There was, of course, a printing press, But just as interesting was the Linotype. Just like the gentleman in the video, Mr. D. would sit and type the copy and out of the machine would come the lines of type (hence, Linotype). One year I wrote and helped produce the first student handbook at our high school in many years. I would walk up the street to Mr. D.'s shop and work with him on the process.

There was something neat and even exciting about the printing process when you would see the hot metal lines come out and be put into place for printing. We don't need to do that anymore. A few years ago I produced a book of my Christmas stories. It was fun and exciting- and a lot easier than the old printing press method. Plus I was involved in the creation process at my own computer.

Fortunately, with other modern technology we can go back and see these revolutionary machines at work. I hope the film is shown on TV on PBS or Discovery or one of them. It should be fun.

"Linotype: The Film" Teaser from Linotype: The Film on Vimeo.

Payoff Quote:
How does the Linotype fit in with the new technology?
It doesn't.

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