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Handwriting: It's Not Just for Humans Anymore

Published on January 18, 2012

Any fan of Frank Romano knows his love of printing gadgets. This week Frank showcases one of the more unusual gadgets he found during his recent trip to DMA, a handwriting machine.

Frank Romano:  Hi.  This is Frank Romano for WhatTheyThink.com.  I’m here in Boston at the Direct Marketing Association DMA 2011.  And this show is just starting to fill up as the conference, the keynote session of the conference is starting to let out.  And I love gadgets and there aren’t a lot of gadgets here; a lot of people with direct marketing of all kinds, from paper to tweeting to all kinds of stuff.  But one of the things I always like are machines that are different, and here’s one that’s definitely different.  It’s a little handwriting machine.  Can I ask a question?

Speaker:  Sure.

Frank Romano:  Can I change the handwriting?

Speaker:  Sure.

Frank Romano:  Can I make it a Catholic School Script?

Speaker:  Yup, you can do anything you want.  Anything a human being can do, it can do.

Frank Romano:  So how does it do that?  Someone then writes letters and then you scan them?

Speaker:  What I would do is I would give you a page with about four or five paragraphs on it.  You’d have them write those paragraphs.  And then I would take it and make their handwriting font and then we could actually write with their handwriting.

Frank Romano:  So any kind of a pen?

Speaker:  Any pen.

Frank Romano:  Any kind of paper?

Speaker:  Any paper.

Frank Romano:  So something I preprint and then I put a handwritten note on it, or an entire handwritten note.

Speaker:  Yup.  We’ve done, you know, letters; you know, two or three-page full letters.

Frank Romano:  You realize that this is manual tweeting, okay?  So I love the idea that you can do an entire page with this material.

Speaker:  Uh huh.  You know, we can also—we use multiple fonts, so when you look inside at multiple characters, like if you look at the e and you look at an a you’ll see different characters as it writes.  So it actually randomizes the characters.

Frank Romano:  You know, that Gutenberg tried to do that.  He had 292 pieces of metal because he was trying to emulate what the handwritten scribes did.  That’s why he got into trouble, by the way; it took him a while to get all of that done.  Now if he had this machine, he could have done handwritten bibles in a fraction of the time.  He just died too soon.  So if we could just figure out how to do time travel and I could go back in time, I could sell this machine.  What does it sell for by the way?

Speaker:  It doesn’t sell.  We build them ourselves and we simply use them to do direct mail production for customers.

Frank Romano:  And the company is RST Marketing?

Speaker:  Uh huh.

Frank Romano:  And where are you located?

Speaker:  We’re in Forest, Virginia.

Frank Romano:  And so you are a service for companies that want to do this form of personal...

Speaker:  Sure.  We do direct mail production, uh huh.  We do printing, data processing, personalization, mail shop.  This is just one of the techniques that we use.

Frank Romano:  And so you also have laser printers and you do variable data printing as we know it?

Speaker:  Yeah.

Frank Romano:  Have you ever combined variable data printing with the handwriting?

Speaker:  Yeah, we did.  We can actually personalize a black letter, you know, and then we come back and we can write and do full variable as well.

Frank Romano:  Wow.  And you build this machine yourself so it’s not a commercially available device?

Speaker:  Correct.

Frank Romano:  Although there are probably some out there, I would assume.

Speaker:  Correct.

Frank Romano:  Well, I’m very impressed.  Thank you much for taking the time.

Speaker:  Thanks for stopping by.

Frank Romano:  Bye now.

And so here we are everybody at DMA 2011.  Perhaps another video in a little while—or not.  Take care.

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By Chris Eckel on Jan 18, 2012

wrong video?


By martyn eustace on Jan 18, 2012

I think so! Where's the right one?


By Michael Riebesehl on Jan 18, 2012

yeah same Video as the last post from Frank


By Eric Vessels on Jan 18, 2012

Sorry about that. There was a filename mixup that has been fixed now! Enjoy.


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