Talk:Phototypesetting

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There is a sentance to describe the process of phototypesetting that makes no sense. I don't know how the process works, so there is no way for me to rework it. If you understand the meanding of the following sentance, please rewrite it and post it on my talk page. I will be glad to put it back in the article. "By using a strobelight and tracking the position of the letters on the filmstrip, characters were exposed onto photopaper as the filmstrip drum moved across the photopaper, creating justified or unjustified text." telekid 20:58, 30 December 2005 (UTC)


There's a lot that should be added to this article: the development of input methods (paper tape, etc.), and information about the technologies of a number of companies other than Compugraphic. I've edited it a bit, but I'd like to participate in some expansion. Potpublstu 05:18, 31 December 2005 (UTC)

telekid: Here's how it works.

The "filmstrip" on the phototypesetter had characters going down one side and hash marks going down the other. As the drum spins, the system counts the hashmarks and always knows what character from the filmstrip is in front of the lens. When the user types a character onto the keyboard, the system calculates where that character is on the strip and the next time it passes that character's position, based on the hashmark count, the strobe flashes through the strip, it is magnified by the lens and exposes the photopaper. There was an associated "width card" that came with each filmstrip that contained information about the width of each character and thus the amount of space it would take up, based on the point size. After the strobe flashed, the entire lens assembly would move based on the character's width.

For justified composition, such as you see in newspaper columns, the system also kept up with the amount of space remaining on the line and had some intelligence regarding hyphenation. If it reached the end of the line and there was not enough space left to complete the word, it would analyze the word for hyphenation points (rudimentary by today's standards) and if it could find no place to hyphenate, it would move the entire word down to the next line and place an equal amount of space between all remaining characters on the previous line. This sometimes caused some very strange looking type.

In the event you are interested, I worked for Compugraphic for about 7 years as an installation specialist. I installed the equipment and trained the users on it. If you'd like any more information, please let me know. I'm consultant999@hotmail.com

I added some linked names of companies that were leading in the phototype setting industry. I concentrated on optomechanical machines only. Companies (and their machines) are: Berthold (Diatype and Diatronic), Linotype (Linofilm) and Monotype (Monophoto). One of the first phototype setting machines that actually worked was the Uhertype, developed by the hungarian Edmund Uher and built by MAN Augsburg in the 1930ties. Several concepts were tried out, but they all had some flaws. When you want to get into this seriously, you should read this book: Lawrence W. Wallis: A Concise Chronology of Typesetting Developments. Albert-Jan Pool

Phototypesetter vs. imagesetter[edit]

The article says that phototypesetters were superseded by imagesetters. That's strange because the article about imagesetters describes a phototypesetter. Well, it mentions lasers rather than CRTs, which isn't a real difference.

As has been pointed out, a lot of cleanup is needed.

I believe the right sequence goes like this:

1. phototypesetters based on film strips or film disks with character images, and flash exposure of the selected character 2. phototypesetters using high resolution CRTs. 3. phototypesetters using lasers as light source instead of CRTs.

2 and 3 also subdivide another way: raster based font shapes (e.g. Autologic APS-5, or the earlier III somethingoranother) vs. outline based font shapes (Linotronic 300 if I remember right, and of course the later Postscript based systems all work like that). And all these overlapped: I've seen all 3 at different printers around the same time (1978 or so).

As imagesetter points out, these were followed by the platesetter though that isn't really all that different -- same image-creation machinery but different output medium.

Paul Koning (talk) 18:40, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

I agree Michael P. Barnett (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 02:03, 21 November 2010 (UTC).

Autlogic not mentioned[edit]

There is no mention of Autologic, which built their own hardware and mainly supplied major newspapers. I was employed there in 1975. While I was there, they moved from Chatsworth, CA to the Thousand Oaks area (I think not *in* Thousand Oaks). The build was used in the filming of the 1975 "Death Race 2000".

Kdq (talk) 22:26, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

Mention of Autologic is essential. I just put it in. Michael P. Barnett (talk) 02:01, 21 November 2010 (UTC)


Perspectives of an octagenarian who spent much of his career in the field[edit]

The people who started this article did an excellent job with the information they had at hand. But having been on the inside provides a bit more. I did some of the early work on what we called, interchangeably: computer composition, computer typesetting, computer aided typesetting, electronic composition. From the word go, these included use of optical phototypesetting equipment such as the Photon and Linofilm, linecasting machines (Linotype and Intertype) and, as they came along, equipment that displayed characters on CRTs. I experimented with a crude CRT attachment to the IBM 709 in my lab in about 1960.

Some immediate comments on the preamble:

1. I see the transition from the technology of the Videocomp and APS to desktop publishing as a change from displaying text on the CRT of a special purpose device to that of a PC. I would be comfortable with something like: "Phototypesetting: methods of setting type that project the optical or electronic images of characters and pictures onto film, paper or other media. Current practice is usually called desktop publishing, and the use of PC's has made the special purpose large display units obsolete."

2. The present preamble was already at variance with the mention of CRTs in the passage "Some later phototypesetters utilized a CRT to project the image of letters onto the photographic paper." The word "some" is a bit of an understatement, considering the vast amount of material that was typeset on Videocomp, APS, Fototronic and other VDT equipment. Also, the present preamble is a bit too specialized -- "The film would then be fed into a processor, a machine that would pull the film through two or three baths of chemicals, where it would emerge ready for paste up." was NOT true of all phototypesetting machines.

Some immediate comments on the body of the article:

3. No-one knows everything about anything. The statement that Berthold "knew everything about type" is a bit hyperbolic -- I think something like "Berthold had encyclopedic knowledge of type faces" would be adequate.

4. Apropos "Because early generations of phototypesetters couldn't change text size and font easily" -- my MIT press release on December 6, 1961, shows the "tail" from Alice in Wonderland that decreases in size from line to line, alongside the coding which is very simple. This is reproduced on page viii of my book, that I reference in my update of the article. The ease of changing font is shown in the table on page 27 of the book, and in many later displays.

5. Apropos "since most early typesetting machines could only display a single column of type" is a slight oversimplification. The machines had to set left to right, line by line, but software could merge the content of two columns, to give a control tape that set the first line of column 1, then the first line of column 2, then the second line of column 1, then the second line of column 2, and so on. "Later typesetters had multi-column features ..." true, some had bidirectional film movement, but software provisions for page make up dominated.

6. Apropos corrections of proofs -- extensive use was made of splicing control tapes, as well as cutting and pasting film manually (I was a bit disappointed by a meeting I flew to Chicago to attend when considerable time was spent by the audience bemoaning the shortage of one edged razor blades).

My editing of the article, which just consists of inserting the first two paragraphs now visible under "History", and these comments in the discussion, comprise my first contribution to Wikipedia. I hope what I have written does not offend.

Michael P. Barnett (talk) 02:01, 21 November 2010 (UTC)

Considering your experience on the topic, by all means make corrections and expand the article. Being your own source is great but can be annoying for finding publications to support what you know. The article as it stands is a bit light on sources. Keep up the good work. -- BlindWanderer (talk) 03:47, 21 November 2010 (UTC)
Sorry to take so long replying. Slightly overwhelmed. As stopgap response, the book that I wrote and include in list of references gives references in turn to numerous projects. Should I include sentence stating this and giving list of these -- tension between pushing reader to get hold of copy of book to follow up and cluttering webspace with redundant information. Arthur Phillips book was exhaustive about everything done up to that point. Several volumes of Annual Review of Information Science and Technology ed. Carlos Cuadra, contain survey articles in 1960s. In particular vol 2. pp339--384, containing 212 references (not all to phototypesetting), by staff of American Institute of Physics. Google search on "c j duncan typesetting" brings up flood of links, including proceedings of conference he organized in 1965. Sample of Duncan's output was in Science Museum display on typesetting about 10 years ago. Web site for collected papers of Rowley Atterbury, founder of Westerham Press, which pioneered in UK leads to important information about his work. hhttp://www.reading.ac.uk/special-collections/collections/sc-atterbury.aspx. Maybe coincidence, but an installment of Antique Road Show on TV in US was about one of their experts whose father's name was Rowland Atterbury. If related, might provide information. Linotronic has a Wikipedia article, not cross referenced. But I doubt if historical. Not immediately relevant, but when RCA marketed Videocomp, the deal with the Digiset inventor Rudolph Hell landed us with the laser colour separator that had as its main advertisement a photograph of a live pig that Andy Warhol had covered in paint -- copy was in Victoria and Albert exhibition of advertising posters several years ago. My book M. P. Barnett and G. K. Barnett, Personal graphics for profit and pleasure on the IBM Personal Computers, 321p, Little Brown, Boston, Mass, 1984. was first book phototypeset with all the (hundred or so) illustrations created by the phototypesetting software (contains explanation of how this was done). I published several papers that conatined first (by 10 years) examples of built up mathematical formulas created by symbolic calculation (cited in my first book). I have papers in accessible proceedings of conferences in Paris and Washington, in 1965; article in accessible trade journal, short article in Nature, in proceedings of conference in Washington 1967, major article from proceedings of conference in Baltimore 1981. I had to go through my bibliography to remember these. And I am concerned about incorporating material that might appear slanted to my role. AND TIME IS INELASTIC. I do not have margin to put this into main article, suitably filleted and styled. I am working on plan to recruit students to help input material. But I want them to focus on topics relevant to their professional aims. Major principle of font design subject of a patent that was notorious basis of multi-million dollar lawsuits reported in Wall Street Journal etc. Attorney James Naughton traceable through Martindale-Hubble has vast information about relevant literature. If you can summon up reinforcements and could use more details let me know. Michael P. Barnett (talk) 15:03, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

StripPrinter photo composing machine[edit]

I noticed the www is void of any images of this machine; used by graphic artists in the early days of photo typesetting; with cut & paste the next step, before the line-shot camera, plate burn, & the offset press. To explain the mechanics in more detail, the typestyle is selected and inserted into the slot, the red handle on the left opens a window to a strip of b&w 35mm paper, the red button on the upper right flashes a light for a moment, the strip removed and developed in chemistry, dried, cut & pasted. The lower tan case let you work in roomlight, as the film coiled into the space. Headlines were roughly 1" or smaller without an inter-step. Variations could be superimposed by an additional negative; such as stripes, polka dots, wood grain, etc. WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) point size, style, spacing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:StripPrinter_%28fonts%29_%26_IBM_Selectric_typewriter.jpg Greg0658 (talk) 09:05, 20 August 2012 (UTC)

Early history and printingReidSmith 21:52, 26 October 2012 (UTC)[edit]

The text tends to concentrate on technical developments from the 1960s. The New York Times Encyclopedic Almanac 1970 (p.474) states that a phototypesetting machine was invented by E.G. Klingberg, Fritz Stadelmann and H.R. Freund of the USA in 1945. I have a privately printed copy of Eric Linklater's novel "Private Angelo" which states in the colophon: "Of this book, first published by Jonathan Cape in 1946, two thousand copies were printed at Christmas 1957 for Sir Allen Lane and Richard Lane by McCorquodale & Co Ltd, London, and bound by the Dorstel Press Ltd., Harlow, Essex. The endpapers were designed by David Gentleman and printed by Lowe & Brydone Ltd, London. The book was composed entirely without metal type: it is the first to have been produced in Great Britain by means of photocomposition on the Intertype Fotosetter." — Preceding unsigned comment added by ReidSmith (talkcontribs) 21:52, 26 October 2012 (UTC)