Linotype – The Twitter of 1886

“Ottmar! You’ve done it! A line of type!”  (Whitelaw Reid, New York Tribune, 1886)

At the Ampersand 2012 Conference we were treated to a screening of Linotype: The Film over lunch followed by a Q&A session with the director, Doug Wilson (whose very cool ampersand tattoo is set in Scala, fact fans).

This is a wonderful film and not only for type enthusiasts. The Linotype was invented on 3 July 1886 by German watchmaker Ottmar Mergenthaler and created a communication revolution. Publications that previously required typeset by hand could be done much faster using the machine to create lines of hot metal type. This allowed for news to be reported to the public hours after it happened. And it didn’t even put anyone out of work, it increased the demand for print so much that hand type setters were employed to operate Linotype machines. Win, win I say.

All in all a fascinating tale of an invention that changed the world, and the people involved, a great piece of social, industrial and cultural history. Linotype: The Film will be released on DVD in October and will also be available Netflix, iTunes and Amazon. Watch it.

Oh and I also picked up (bought, not stole) an awesome letterpress print, pressed by the director himself. Amazing Lintoype artwork by Brian Collins


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