The Linotype typesetting machine

Setting text by hand had one major disadvantage – the individual letters had to be returned to the type case after each use. The Linotype machine, which founded fresh type for each job, eliminated half of the work involved in setting type. Instead of aligning lead type by hand, the Linotype operator used a keyboard to automatically assemble matrices (or moulds) corresponding to the letters that made up the text. Each line of text was then cast in a single block by injecting a lead alloy. The matrix, corresponding to the various characters were identified by notched shapes that not only allowed the operator to select them, but also to return them automatically into a matrix magazine after the line was cast. The lines of lead were recycled after each printing.

Standardised, calibrated and new characters for typesetting at a rate of up to 5,000 words an hour.

The Linotype multiplied the typesetter's hourly production volume fivefold. In addition, by replacing vast amounts of lead type by a few hundred coded matrices, it paved the way to a new conception of how information was handled.

There was a downside – only 18 font sizes were allowed, which meant that characters had to be "standardised", thus restricting the complete freedom that was possible with type cases. Moreover, the "duplexed" matrices were used for both roman nd italic fonts. This meant that italic fonts had to be the same width as their roman counterparts, whereas traditionally italic characters were not only slanted, they were narrower than roman. Garamond did not benefit from this way of doing things!

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