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Frank Romano on the History of Phototypesetting

Published on May 15, 2013

This week, Frank talks about the history of phototypesetting while doing a photo shoot for a book cover on the subject.

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By Donald Goldman on May 15, 2013

Well Frank, once again you have walked through my past. A couple of other phototypesetting fonts to get are from Linotype who as you know first emulated the linecaster's matrix putting a character in the middle of the mat and Monotype who had a film mat that selected characters the same way their metal machine did. Maaybe Andy Tribute has one. Or at least that is how I remembered it when running these machine at RIT in the good old days.

Writing a front end system thought the 1980's to drive the phototypesetters you discussed was a real treat. Everyone was different. How the phototypesetters selected the characters and line justified is probably a theme for another video.


By Gordon Pritchard on May 16, 2013

I hope you include a description of the difference between text and display type as I've not seen it discussed in any type book of the period. The bit that I'm referring to is the use of the meniscus effect and image loss to increase image fidelity.

It's hard to explain so here is a link to an image that shows what I'm referring to:


Specifically the small notches in text type get filled in and the extended corners get lost to create square internal and external corners. Back in the day I saw this accidentally when a text font was used for display type because the typesetter didn't have the requisite display font in his collection. So he enlarged the text font instead.


By Richard Gwyn on May 19, 2013

Hi, Frank: Longtime follower of your work. One group not mentioned was LETTERING INC. out of New York, but they had shops in Chicago and San Francisco, too. I was offered the job of running the one in San Francisco, but liked southern Calif. better. One of the font designers that worked for Lettering Inc was named Jerome Bowen. I worked as a lettering man in the studio with Jerry and learned some of his methods of hand lettering. Lettering Inc may have been purchased by one of the others, but they had particularly top quality fonts. All, a long time ago, it seems. Regards, Dick Gwyn


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