On this day a hundred and twenty five years ago, Ottmar Mergenthaler demonstrated for the first time the Linotype machine at the New York Tribune in New York. The world would not be the same afterward. Not because of the machine itself, but due to the great speed with which newspapers and books could then be set. The Linotype machine brought about a new age in fast information exchange that was hitherto impossible. That is the legacy of the Linotype machine, at least to my mind. It’s not the matrices and hot metal that has long been melted for scrap, but the books, newspapers, and simply, the knowledge that has been transferred through it. It was a vessel rather than a destination. It’s impact on our world is undeniable.
For us type lovers, there is another great legacy. The success of the machine enabled the company to invest in typography and high quality typefaces, whether directly or through its subsidiaries or acquisitions. These are a treasure that we all hold very dear.
If you’re interested in the story, and don’t feel like poring through lots of history books, you can read Doug Wilson’s article in Codex magazine, check out our Line of Type book by Alessio Leonardi and Jan Middendorp, or simply wait for Linotype: The Film. We’re all very excited for the movie to come out!