In William Church of Boston patented a typesetting machine consisting of a keyboard on which each key released a piece of type of the corresponding letter stored in channels in a magazine. The pieces of type thus obtained had to be assembled by hand and the line justified. Church had avoided the problem of distribution and shown an intuition as to its solution by annexing to the magazine a device for constantly casting new pieces of type.
Numerous machines based on the same principle and with the further addition of a mechanism that placed the type pieces selected the right way round appeared in the course of the next 50 years. These machines produced type at the rate of 5, to 12, pieces per hour, as opposed to about 1, by hand composition. But in all of them the type was simply delivered in a continuous row, which had to be divided into lines and justified. These machines were completed by the introduction of a mechanical distributor, which was a sort of reverse compositor: pieces of type from lines that had been used passed before the operator, who pressed the corresponding key on his keyboard for the appropriate channel in the magazine to be opened up.
The speed of mechanized distribution did not exceed 5, pieces of type per hour and was, thus, no faster than hand distribution. Mechanization of letterpress composition faced two difficulties: first, justification, which required intelligent estimation of the size of spaces to be provided between words; and, second, the time taken during which the pieces of type were used for printing, which delay kept composition and distribution from being integrated into one cycle. Finally, in the s in the United States, German-born Ottmar Mergenthaler invented the Linotype , a typecasting compositor that cast a solid one-piece line, or slug , from movable matrices of each letter.
Each of the matrices was individually notched so that it could return only to its proper slot in the magazine after use. Justification was carried out by inserting wedged spacebands between groups of matrices immediately after making up the words of a given line. Here the matrices rather than type pieces went through the four basic operations of letterpress composition; cast lead was used for printing. The Linotype can produce the equivalent of 5, to 7, pieces of type per hour.
In , also in the United States, Tolbert Lanston invented the Monotype , which casts individual pieces of type for a line and justifies each line by a system of counting in units the width of the spaces taken up by the pieces of type. The matrices are indefinitely reusable, and the pieces of type, which are used only for the impressions, are returned to the caster. The contemporary Monotype typecaster is controlled by a ribbon of paper perforated on a separate keyboard. It can produce 10, to 12, pieces of type per hour. In the American Washington I.
Ludlow perfected a typecasting machine for the large display type that bears his name. The matrices are assembled by hand in a composing stick, which is then inserted above the opening of a mold; the matrices are also distributed by hand. The first process for reproducing illustrations was xylography, using woodcuts that printed in relief and that therefore could be combined with letterpress , the picture blocks and the pieces of type for texts being locked into the same form.
As early as the second half of the 15th century, xylography faced competition from engraving on metal that printed by intaglio ; the metal plate copper , sometimes brass , zinc , and even steel after , engraved with a tool burin or etched with acid, was inked and carefully wiped so that ink remained only in the incisions and was transferred to paper under pressure in a cylinder press derived from the rolling mill.
Since the intaglio method of printing was not compatible with woodcut printing, sheets of text and of illustrations for the same book had to be printed separately. Presses for printing curved intaglio-engraved plates were perfected during the 19th century with mechanized inking with the use of rollers and wiping with the use of revolving cloth bands or rotating disks covered with calico. Their printing capacity was limited. As early as the end of the 18th century, however, intaglio printing had inspired a method for continuous printing of textiles by passing them under an engraved and inked cylinder from which excess ink had been removed by a scraper.
In France in this technique was applied to printing paper for school-book covers. A solid copper cylinder was engraved not with continuous lines but with a multiplicity of tiny cavities in such a way that they retained the ink uniformly despite gravity, centrifugal force , and the action of the scraper. The process was suitable only for simple graphics. A third printing process that had undergone significant development was lithography, neither relief nor intaglio printing but based on the principle that water and grease will not mix.
In Aloys Senefelder of Prague investigated the properties of a stone with a calcium carbonate base and a fine, homogeneous , porous surface. A design drawn on its surface with greasy ink, wetted with water and then brushed with ordinary ink, retained the ink only on the design.
This could consequently be reproduced on a sheet of paper pressed against the stone. Senefelder also established that a design drawn on such a stone and printed on paper could be transferred to another stone in as many identical copies as desired, side by side, which made it possible to obtain several copies at a time by printing a single large sheet. He further established that a metal such as zinc had the same properties. Senefelder envisaged a press in which the stone, secured to an undercarriage, was inked, covered with the sheet of paper with a sheet of pasteboard above it, and submitted to pressure.
By the first mechanized lithographic press with a cylinder, flannel-covered rollers for wetting, and rollers for inking was perfected.
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The fact that it was possible to replace the stone by a zinc plate that could be curved made it possible to build rotary presses the first in in which the paper passed between the plate-bearing cylinder and the impression cylinder. While searching for a means of automatically inscribing an image on a lithographic stone, then on a tin plate, in order to engrave it in intaglio, Joseph-Nicephore Niepce in the s established that certain chemical compounds are sensitive to light. This marked the origins of photogravure and led to both the invention of photography between and and the use of photographic processes for the printed reproduction of photographs.
In William Henry Fox Talbot , a British scientist and inventor, placed a piece of black cloth tulle between the object he wanted to reproduce the leaf of a tree and the photosensitive coating spread on a steel plate and obtained a picture that retained the fine mesh of the tulle. Consequently, etching with acid resulted not in an extensive and uniform erosion of an area but in tiny juxtaposed pits all over the photosensitive coating and varying in depth according to the degree of exposure. Talbot simultaneously had invented the screen and also had opened the way for a new development in intaglio printing: rotogravure.
The screen was perfected in the s by substituting for the cloth two sheets of glass with uniform parallel lines that crossed perpendicularly. The screen made possible letterpress and lithographic reproduction of the full range of tones of a photographic document by using the effect of the diffusion of light through the mesh of its grid and converting the different intensity of tones into the different thicknesses of the printing surface. The circular mechanization of intaglio engraving, meanwhile, came up against two associated difficulties: the need to engrave an infinite number of tiny cells and the need to engrave them directly onto a cylinder.
There were problems, because the rubbing of the squeegee to remove excess ink excluded the use of a curved plate that would not have provided a uniform surface in the area in which it was attached, and it was not possible to get photosensitive solutions to adhere to a cylinder. In —64 J. Swan of Britain invented carbon tissue , paper coated with gelatin that can be rendered photosensitive and exposed to light before being applied to a metal surface of any shape.
They kept their process a secret. In a parallel way, patents for a slightly different process, in which the image to be reproduced was screened before making the impression on the carbon tissue, were taken out in Germany and the United States. Beginning with the invention of the offset technique, the 20th century saw the steady development of innovations in the direction of mass production , speed, and economy.
At the same time, lithography was undergoing a new evolution. After the first mechanical presses had been perfected, this process had developed along two lines: 1 printing on thin sheets of metal for example, tinplate for packaging canned foods using a transfer process in which the impression cylinder carrying the metal sheet to be printed did not come in contact with the stone but did with an intermediary cylinder covered with rubber, the blanket, which transferred the image from the stone to the metal; and 2 printing on paper, which was done only comparatively infrequently in the last years of the 19th century, on cylinder or rotary presses.
Rubel , discovered that an image accidentally transferred from the plate cylinder of his rotary to the rubber blanket of the impression cylinder during a paper-feed stoppage could itself be used for printing and in fact produced a superior impression. Rubel and an associate constructed a three-cylinder press, the first offset press, the term since used to describe this increasingly popular printing device.
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A few years later a problem arose in connection with printing the background of checks with a water-soluble ink to prevent forgeries. It was proposed that the lithographic plate of the plate cylinder be replaced with a stereotype plate or with a letterpress wraparound plate. This process, which combines the relief of letterpress, which does not require wetting, with the transfer of offset, is known as dry offset , or letterset. Its area of application is not limited to check backgrounds but is used in all areas of conventional printing. Since another process has been developed, particularly in the United States.
It combines rotogravure with the transfer of offset for printing wallpapers , plastic floor coverings, paper plates, and other products. This was accomplished by the use of two wood blocks that fitted one inside the other and could be separately inked. Experiments to reproduce pictures in several colours on wood blocks were made in Germany in the 16th century. In the 17th century, different inks were applied to the different parts of the same engraved metal plate in such a way that all the inks were transferred to the paper in a single pressing. In a painter, Jacques-Christophe Le Blond , took out a patent in England for a process that used the three primary colours , blue, yellow, and red, and black for outlining shapes.
Using a dense grid, he engraved four metal plates, bringing out on each plate the relative importance of the colour involved. The same sheet of paper then went through four successive impressions, each in a different colour.
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The search for maximum efficiency had from the very beginning posed the problem of both the mechanization and the automation of composition. The Monotype system, with its separation of keyboard and caster, had constituted one approach to the solution, since the same caster could work at full speed when fed with perforated tapes produced on several keyboards.
The perfection of teletypesetter remote-control composing equipment in the United States by about permitted widespread application of the principle of separation of human function on the one hand and mechanized function on the other. The operator produces a tape on which each letter, symbol, and space is represented by a combination of perforations.
A translator device reads the tape and, according to each combination of holes, orders the release of the necessary matrices for letters, signs, and justifying spaces. Machines casting one-piece fully spaced lines or slugs are able to produce more than 20, characters per hour. The production of the perforated tape remained relatively slow, however, because of the time taken by the operator to decide where to make the division in a word at the end of a line.
Eventually, in the second half of the 20th century, electronics provided the means of automatically making this decision. In the s the BBR system, named by the initials of three inventors in France, introduced programmed composition. Starting with a perforated tape continuously produced by the operator, a computer takes over the task of determining the length of lines, the places where words are to be divided according to grammatical rules and typographic usage, the integration of corrections, and even the presentation of the text according to the layout.
The speed at which a final tape bearing this information can be produced is limited only by the performance of the perforator, which is the outlet device of the computer. Operating speeds have exceeded , characters per hour, or 10 times the capacity of the most modern slugcasting machines. During the s, perforated tape began to be replaced by magnetic tape , which is even more rapidly made, at a rate of about 1, characters per second, or 3,, per hour. Although magnetic tape is useless for mechanical composers casting pieces of type or lines in lead, such speed is practical for other kinds of machines not burdened with the weight of lead and the inertia of their mechanical components.
In preparing cylinders for rotogravure, offset plates, or letterpress wraparound plates, it is illogical to use the vast weight of lead in letterpress composition to produce a reproduction proof that will then be photographed. Before the end of the 19th century this circumstance led to consideration of machines for composing headings by photographing the images of the letters in succession.
In the Photoline, a photographic equivalent of the Ludlow, assembled matrices of transparent letters in a composing stick in order to film each line of the heading. The next idea to be tried involved the adaptation of existing typesetters by replacing the metal matrices with matrices carrying the image of the letters and replacing the caster with a photographic unit.
History of printing
The industrial application of this idea resulted in the Fotosetter , a phototypesetter, and its variant the Fotomatic , controlled by a perforated tape, both derived from the Intertype slugcasting machine; the Linofilm , derived from the Linotype; and the Monophoto , derived from the Monotype. Retaining the mechanical limitations of machines intended to shape lead, they could not achieve appreciably higher rates of performance. Photocomposition had to be rethought in functional terms. This approach was explored in Germany as early as the s with the Uher typesetter, which had photographic matrices attached to a rotating disk.
The second generation of phototypesetters is characterized by the maximum elimination of factors of inertia, the number of moving parts having generally been reduced to only two: a steadily revolving disk or drum carrying the photographic matrices and an optical device of prisms or mirrors allowing directional action on the beam of light provided by an electronic flashtube.
Executed by phototypesetting, The Marvelous World of Insects was done on their machine in The first model had an attached keyboard. Later models with a separate keyboard printed more than 28, characters per hour. A new Linofilm , functional and electronic, was fitted with a device for selecting matrices by the action of the blades on the photographic shutter, producing 12 characters per second, or 43, per hour.
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The model that succeeded it is equipped with a drum and is capable of double the output. The Photon-Lumitype also performs at the rate of 70, to 80, characters per hour. But at this speed the technique of using a rotary matrix case reaches its limit because of the problems posed by centrifugal force. The Lumizip introduced a further revolutionary change by retaining as moving parts only the lens, which scans in a single movement the fixed series of light matrices so as to photograph at one time the whole line of 20 to 60 letters. Output reaches to characters per second, or more than 2,, per hour; this machine required magnetic tape.
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