Cast Monotype characters (Atelier du Livre d’Art et de l’Estampe, Imprimerie nationale) Cast Monotype characters (Atelier du Livre d’Art et de l’Estampe, Imprimerie nationale)

The Monotype typesetting machine

Monotype was a direct competitor of Linotype. By casting the characters one by one, it allowed for greater nuances in typesetting. Text entry and casting were performed on two separate machines. First, a keyboard produced a perforated strip containing all the information needed to compose the text. This strip was then used to pilot a typecasting machine.

Since it offered more flexibility in configuring fonts, Monotype was particularly well suited for setting books, which often required an extended set of characters. Moreover, contrary to the Linotype machine, it offered the composer the option of entering corrections at any point in the composition process.

A machine that is a precursor of coding.

Unlike Linotype, Monotype also made kerning, possible, i.e. letters could overshoot the lead type. Linotype's italic "f"s were often much less slanted than the other letters, and their loops were very short. On the other hand, tracking for Monotype's characters was restricted to 0.1mm, which meant that texts composed in small fonts were a bit loose.

Technically more "advanced", the Monotype was a precursor of computer techniques, such as the act of "coding" the text onto a perforated strip, or the use of multiple keyboard/perforators, which prefigured the concept of computer networks. Moreover, the strips served as a sort of "memory", and could be stored and reused for later print runs.

Mechanical typesetting generated considerable savings, but it was a great source of discontent within the graphics trade. It was roundly challenged by, among others, the Arts & Crafts movement, which extoled hand craftsmanship and the renewed use of hand tools.

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