Talk:Hot metal typesetting

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References for Knuth[edit]

If someone wants, all the refrences for Knuth's motivations (love of hot-lead, disappointment with phototypesetting results) are in the TeX article. Mostly it is in essays from his book, "Digitial Typography". --Andorphin 22:15, 8 April 2006 (UTC)

I am going to be bold (I hope it doesn't offend) and merge hot type with this entry. My reasoning for keeping this entry is that the equivelent article for phototypesetting is listed as such, not as cold type. I will try to gome back and organize this more in the medium term. --Andorphin 22:15, 8 April 2006 (UTC)

Too technical?[edit]

If you're still around Andorphin, or someone else who knows about this stuff, do you think you could try to make this article a little more accessible to people who know little to nothing about printing? Skittle 15:21, 4 November 2006 (UTC)

I tried a little bit. This is a quite technical article, isn't it? - DavidWBrooks 15:34, 4 November 2006 (UTC)

Just wanted tp say thanks[edit]

This is a really nice article; I can't think of anything I should like to lose, nor anything that could be added. A superb article and thank you to all for making it so. Its brevity and clarity should stand as an example. I would nominate for FA if I knew how.

Best wishes SimonTrew (talk) 18:06, 2 May 2009 (UTC)


This seems a good article, but some pictures of the machines described would make it easier to understand the process.

External Links[edit]

I'm not sure if the external link labeled-

Free e-book “Linotype – Chronik eines Firmennamens” (in German); (“Linotype – Chronologie of a Company Name”)

-is appropriate for an encyclopedia, as it takes you to a page that sells e-books. It seems a lot like spam-vertising. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:20, 26 December 2012 (UTC)

I removed the external link " Hot metal typesetting in pictures" with regret--it sounds like it might have been helpful to understanding an article that's really quite difficult to follow. But it's not at, nor did a web search find it. Mcswell (talk) 01:47, 22 September 2014 (UTC)


Okay, I'm going to try breaking down just the first part of the "types" section. Could you please advise?

Two different approaches to mechanising typesetting were independently developed in the late 19th century. One, known as the Monotype composition caster system, produced texts with the aid of perforated paper-ribbons, all characters are cast separate. These machines could produce texts also in "large-composition" up to 36 point.

1) Okay, so one of the two types is called the "Monotype compostion caster system". It uses perforated paper-ribbons: are these to carry instructions, like punch cards, or are these used to physically carry the glyphs into place, or what? And is "all characters are cast separate" the defining characteristic of this system? Does "large composition" just mean "larger letters and numbers"?

The Super-caster, another machine produced by Monotype, was similar in function to the Thompson, Bath, pivotal and others casters but designed to produce single type (including even larger sizes) for hand setting.

2) Is this just a specific machine that uses the same system as in the previous paragraph? Or is it a different system?

The other approach was to cast complete lines as one slug, usually comprising a whole line of text.

3) Great! Does this system have a name? Who came up with it, or marketed it, initially?

Of this system there have been at least 5 different enterprises:

The Linotype and similar Intertype machines came out with paper tape and electronic automation near the end of their life cycles that allowed for the news wire services to send breaking news to remote newspaper offices for prompt setting into late editions

All these machines were operated by non-qwerty-keyboards. There was however another system, completely dependent of hand-labour:

This machine was able to cast display body sizes that other mechanical composition systems were unable to produce. In this way headings could be produced to complement text produced on other machines.

4) So we are talking about the second system, with each line cast as a block? What are display body sizes?

The success of these machines lay in different fields: the Monotype caster was more popular for bookwork that required the ability to make manual corrections and edits while the slug casting systems found success in newspaper production where speed of production and make ready for print was essential.

5) What does "where ... make ready for print was essential" mean?

There is another essential difference between Monotype and all the "slug"-producing machines: a monotype-machine can function with a minimal set of matrices: each character needed one matrix. While linecasters cannot function this way, and these systems need quite large magazines of matrices to be able to set a complete line of text with the usual character repetitions. Indeed, the nominal 90 channel magazine of a linecaster really has 91 total channels, with the first two channels allocated to the lower case 'e', and with these matrices being alternately selected from channel 0 and channel 1.

6) What is a "matrix" in this context? Have you found a wikipedia article that explains what they are, which we could link to? I assume such an article would explain what channels are.

There is an additional difference: Monotype must use a punched paper tape, and the "reading frame" is always backwards (right-to-left) in order to achieve justification, as justification is not an inherent capability of the machine (however, "flush left" is an inherent capability); whereas Linotype may use a punched paper tape, although this option is seldom-used outside of daily newspapers, and whether a tape is used, or not, the "reading frame" is always forwards (left-to-right), with justification being an inherent capability of the machine (and, "flush right", "centered" and "flush left" may be very easily accommodated manually, or automatically using a "quadder" attachment).

7) What does the paper tape do? What is a reading frame?

If I can get my head around this a bit more, I will reorder this section to start with telling us what the two types are, then going into more detail about the benefits of the different types, then telling us what the major machines/systems for these types were.

Skittle (talk) 18:50, 6 August 2014 (UTC)