The Linotype patented by Ottmar Mergenthaler in 1882 was the first fully functional – and even today unequalled – line composing machine and revolutionized the entire printing industry, in particular newspaper production. Used for the first time by the New York Tribune newspaper in 1886, the Linotype remained basically unchanged in its basic functions – despite numerous improvements – until it was replaced by electronic typesetting procedures. Using a keyboard similar to a typewriter, it assembles the metal matrices of letters and other characters and the interlying spaces to form lines of print which are automatically cast using a lead alloy. Lines of print created in this way can then be compiled into text columns. One of the Linotype’s major innovations was the fact that the matrices could be reused, the machine automatically sorting and assigning these to their stock positions using a mechanical coding system.

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