Multilanguage Electronic Publishing System

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Multilanguage Electronic Publishing System (MEPS, formerly called Multilanguage Electronic Phototypesetting System[1]) is a system for offset printing in a variety of languages and character sets. The system, completed in 1986, was designed by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.

The MEPS program is used for laying out written material in different languages with different character sets. The program was designed based on responses from the organization's own translators about each language. Before MEPS there was no system available for printing in many languages, due largely to the economies of many countries where production of literature in their languages was not financially viable.[2]


In January 1978, printing operations at the Watch Tower Society's headquarters in Brooklyn, New York were upgraded from letterpress printing to lithographic offset presses (later replaced by the faster photolithographic process).

In 1979 the Society decided to create its own phototypesetting system rather than relying on commercial equipment. The Brooklyn office of the Watch Tower Society began work on the Integrated Publishing System (acquired by IBM in 1982[3]). Concurrently, the Watch Tower Society's office at Watchtower Farms, Wallkill, New York began designing and constructing the necessary phototypesetters, computers and terminals, in addition to the MEPS software.[2] The original core of the system was the MEPS computer, housed within a compact frame approximately 1,016 millimetres (40.0 in) high, 914 millimetres (36.0 in) wide and 864 millimetres (34.0 in) deep. Most of the principal equipment, including circuitry, was built by Jehovah's Witnesses.[2]

MEPS was completed by May 1986, allowing more efficient publication of their literature in dozens of languages.[4] As of 2013, MEPS supports over 600 languages.[5]


Article text is entered on MEPS workstations, composed of a familiar but enlarged typewriter keyboard and a monitor approximately the size of a page from The Watchtower. The keyboard contains a 16-bit microcomputer[needs update] to control the 182 keys. Draft printing can be sent from the workstation directly to a lineprinter[needs update] for editorial review or proofreading.[2]

Each key has five shift levels that provide the equivalent of 910 keys to represent commands, characters or combination commands. For complex character sets, MEPS automatically determines the correct way to render each character, based on its position in a word or sentence, simplifying text entry. For example, standard Arabic Linotype[needs update] must have different keys for all variations of the 22 Arabic letters in four different forms. By comparison, MEPS requires only one keystroke for each Arabic letter. Users who are already familiar with traditional typing and composition procedures can become proficient with MEPS in about two weeks.[2]

After a publication has been composed on the display terminal, it is transferred to the MEPS phototypesetter. The phototypesetter produces an image on photographic paper, using a narrow beam of light, in a manner similar to the operation of a cathode ray tube in a television set. After the photographic paper is processed, it is photographed to produce film that, in turn, is used to make offset printing plates.[2]


  1. ^ Watchtower Publications Index, "MEPS", 2013
  2. ^ a b c d e f "MEPS—An Exciting Leap Forward in Publishing", Awake!, April 22, 1984, pages 22-27
  3. ^ Seybold Report on Publishing Systems, Volume 12, No. 1, September 13, 1982
  4. ^ "Producing Bible Literature for Use in the Ministry", Jehovah's Witnesses - Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, ©1993 Watch Tower, page 596
  5. ^ 2013 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, 2013, pp. 147–148