The Linotype.

Manufacturer and Builder 1, 1890

The Linotype, with which our readers are already familiar, from the elaborate description that appeared in one of the recent impressions of the Manufacturer and Builder , has lately been made the subject of an examination by the Committee on Science and the Arts of the Franklin Institute, and with the result that the machine has the cordial commendation of this distinguished body of experts, and has been recommended as worthy of the highest recognition in its gift — to wit, the award of the Elliott Cresson Gold Medal, which is only rarely bestowed, and then upon inventions or discoveries of unusual merit. This acknowledgement must prove especially gratifying to the inventor and the company interested in the manufacture of the Linotype, since neither he nor they were aware that the machine was under investigation, until after the committee's representatives had personally visited the factory in Brooklyn and made the examination on which the report was based.

The report of the committee is of a most exhaustive character, covering eleven printed pages, and illustrated by five large folding plates of engravings exhibiting the development of the machine by successive steps of invention to its present highly perfected state. We desire in this reference to the subject, simply to present to our readers the essential matters contained in the report, and the conclusions reached, referring to our previous article for details of mechanical construction. The following is, accordingly, abstracted from the committee's report:

The Linotype is a machine involving many inventions. Its purpose is to produce lines of printing characters, instead of detached type for printing, and to do no rapidly, and thus supersede the usual work of compositors in printing. The machine involves a mechanism controlled by a keyboard, resembling the keyboard of a typewriter, having upon it every printing character required from a font of types. This keyboard controls the delivery and the placing of matrices so as to spell the several words; and, after the machine has automatically spaced the words apart so as to justify, the line of characters is cast, and the sides are dressed, no that a series of such lines may be assembled in columns to produce the desired printing forms.

The illustration shows the machine to consist of a series of upright, fiat, parallel tubes of brass, of such size that the matrices can slide down them freely, which tubes are arranged in a series in front of the operator, and above and back of the keyboard. The several fiat tubes are of graduated lengths, so that when the upper ends are at the same level, the line of the lower ends inclines upwardly towards Lhe right hand. Beneath the ends of these tubes is a trough, provided at the right or upper end with a tube, from which a blast of air is constantly forced. The matrices are held in position in the several tubes by a pawl, upon which they rest, and when wanted, are released by the retraction of the pawl by pressure on a key appropriate to the tube and matrix contained therein, so that to deliver any matrix into the inclined trough, an operator has only to depress the key bearing the mark of that character, and the blast of air drives the matrix downwardly into the line ready to form the mold. The setting of type proceeds regularly in this manner by playing upon the keyboard, and the spaces between the words are filled by slides, so that wherever a space is required, a double wedge is ineerted. The completed line of matrices passes from the trough between two plates, which are clamped slightly, so as to bring them into correct line.

They are then released, and the wedges are automatically forced by the machine between the matrices so as to press them apart and force the matrices at the beginning and end of the line into con. tact with stops, which limit the length of the line. The taper of the several wedges being the same, and all being moved at the same rate between the matrices, an equal spacing between the several words is insured. The clamps are now tightened upon the matrices and metal is pumped forcibly into the molds. Upon the edges of the matrices are formed characters, which are presented to the eye of the compositor, so that he can read each character in the matrices as fast as he sets them up, and should lie detect any error, he can remove the wrong matrix and replace it with a correct one before passing to the casting operation. After casting the strip, or line, of type in the manner described, it is discharged between scraping surfaces, which renders it fit for immediate use. Time matrices are now released, and carried to the distributer, where they are suspended from a bar having graduated strips formed upon it, which fit into notches formed in the matrix. These notches are of such form as to hold the matrix engaged until each one comes over its proper tube. The differences of form, while not easily appreciable, are such that no matrix can drop off the slide into the tube beneath it until it has reached the proper place.

Connected to the upper part of each of these tubes is a strip forming an electrode of an electric battery circuit, and a second strip forming the opposite electrode. These electrodes remain open during the normal working of the machine, but should any matrix be stuck or fouled in entering one of the tubes, or turn into the wrong position, it produces a contact with the other electrode, and, operating an electro-magnet by the current so controlled, stops the motive power of the machine.

The report then proceeds to describe a minute detail of the mechanical features of the machine, following the numerous patent specifications in chronological order, and concludes as follows:

The committee visited the factory in Brooklyn, and in. spected the operation of the machine and the plant for its preparation. There is shown in its manufacture a most unusual and extraordinary amount of ingenuity, not only in the machine itself, but in the appliances for producing it, and insuring accuracy in this several parts. The perfection of work accomplished by it, and the rapidity of its work, have been repeatedly reported in various publications. As a quick means for preparing forms for news, book and pamphlet printing, the committee believe these inventions deserving of the highest commendation. . . . In conclusion, for the rapidity and excellence of its work and for the economy resulting in the class of work to which it is applicable, the committee feel justified in recommending the award of the Elliot Cresson Medal to the inventor for the ingenuity displayed in this machine and system."

We may add to the abstract given above, the statement that the Linotype is now regularly installed in a number of newspaper establishments in the United States and abroad, doing there the work of compositors, and also that it is rapidly growing in favor for book work, as the large number of important books set up with it indicates.

The Linotype has in reality effected a profound revolution in the printing art.

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