Way Before Adobe

May 11th, 2010

It’s always good to take a look back at where the things that we take for granted today originated. With Quark Xpress, Adobe InDesign and Microsoft Word can sometimes make it easy to forget that not too long ago setting a page of type meant hours of pain-staking work and an eye for fine detail.

While graphic design and layout design still retain their skill and craft, our tools have allowed us to speed up laying out large blocks of type by ten-fold. Exhibit A in this regard is the Monotype Machine. This machine created by the Monotype Corporation in 1896 and was a vast improvement over setting type straight by hand. A typesetter would type out exactly how he wanted his page (letter by letter), then hand adjusting the set pre-type to fit any details the machine couldn’t perform. A row of type was then placed in a press, ready to go.

This video showcases this method. Truly interesting to see the beginning and ending of the process of printing a page of type.

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