Trapping

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Gerald Giampa's picture
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Kent,

You have put it well.

Do you mind if I insert (AND UNITIZING) and see if it meets with your approval. I am using uppercase to show it is not your words but mine. I am “not” rewriting your sentence, I am just asking if you agree with my insertion?

…..

“But Tschichold had to adapt to both constraints — duplexing (AND UNITIZING) for Lino, unitizing for Mono. So he made the choice to make the two ‘a’s fit the 9 units (which yields a noticeably wide roman ‘a’) instead of cramping the italic in the 8-unit slot.”

……..

Unless systems in Europe were not equal to America? I refer you to Mike Parker

John Savard's picture
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Adding a comment to such an old thread, particularly one which contained a debate that had become acrimonious, may be unfortunate, but I hope that facts will calm things down rather than inflame them. (I had encountered this thread as the result of a web search for the original unit system for TTS fonts.)

The history of the legibility faces from Linotype was, I thought, well known. Alexander Lawson's "Anatomy of a Typeface" gives a good account of it. First there was Ionic No. 5, with low-contrast strokes and a generous x-height. Then there was Excelsior, which was designed to address a problem of ink-trapping that was observed in one particular case.

In high-speed rotary stereotype presses, the rubber rollers that applied the ink had to be made of harder material so that they could withstand more friction. It was at this point that ink-trapping became a problem that had to be addressed in Excelsior's design.

Not ink-trapping per se, but the need to apply ink more heavily so that halftone photographs would print properly, led to a flooding of counters with ink in tabloid newspapers: and so Paragon was designed.

Then a different problem - mold shrinkage - led to the design of Corona.

So while ink trapping was a real phenomenon, it only played a role briefly, and this was basically because presses were being operated in a way that could be expected to lead to poor results.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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Many fonts made today have trapping.*
+
People tend to strongly avoid unnecessary extra effort.
=
?

* Here's one from last week:
http://typophile.com/node/64634

hhp

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I came across another thread where it was noted by someone who worked for Linotype that their drawings of type were generally done to an 18-unit system or a 54-unit system, and that this became useful later on, when they came out with a phototypesetter that required this.

That came as a surprise to me, since indeed the Linotype mechanism makes no technical requirement for a unit system - since every space behaves like a quoin.

But this reminds me of something else. Given that the normal assortment of spaces and quads in a job case consists of em, en, 3-to-em, 4-to-em, and 5-to-em, plus the hairline space, and even the hairline space has a finite width, in my naivete, when first exposed to that I would have thought that even foundry type would have to be made to a unit system of 60 units to the em. If slugs of type had widths like pi/4 or sqrt(2)/2, they would drive typesetters to despair.

The favored explanation, though, was that the accuracy to which a line of type needed to be justified was finite, and just touching the sides of a slug would change its width due to one's sweat and the natural oils of one's skin and so on.

Riccardo Sartori's picture
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I think nowadays trapping is just an aesthetic fad.

Kent Lew's picture
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> Linotype making their matrices for fonts other than the newspaper legibility faces to an 18-unit system, so that those fonts would be usable with TTS.

I think that you may be drawing a conclusion that is not completely warranted.

AFAIK, the Teletypesetter system of tape-driven composition did not intrinsically require unitized fonts.

The TTS system was, foremost, a standardized encoding system for tape perforation that facilitated long-distance [telegraph] transmission of keyed text.

Indeed, a side benefit is that this allowed tape-driven composition on an suitably equipped Linotype machine, similar to the benefit seen on a Monotype.

However, I believe that unitization is a separate issue.

The 18-unit system was an integral part of the Monotype matrix setup and its justification procedure. A unitized system allowed progressive calculation of the composed line and simplified the mechanical computation of space adjustment for justification.

The Linotype, on the other hand, relied upon a physical mechanism for line justification -- the tapered spaceband. So, unitization would not have benefited this process.

I have always understood that the purpose of a unitization spec as part of the TTS system was for standardization in newspaper syndication. Part of the original impetus for the development of TTS was a more efficient means of transmitting news stories. The addition of unitization standards would have allowed a story to set to a consistent measure and length in different newspapers with different body types.

This standardization would not have benefited book compositors.

As I understand it, the whole point of development of the Multiface Perforator was to work with non-unitized fonts and thus a different "counting" mechanism for engaging other operator functions.

What I do know for a fact, having spent some time analyzing the production drawings of Caledonia (drawn in 1937, well after the introduction of the TTS system), is that this book face was *not* drawn on an 18-unit system. Although I have not analyzed other designs as closely, I am highly skeptical that any other book faces were unitized either, prior to the introduction of Linotype's own unitized phototypesetting systems.

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I have just found out some additional information relvant to the question of whether or not Linotype fonts, needlessly from the standpoint of the Linotype mechanism, were unitized due to some external cause.

In the book "The Lithographer's Manual", I found that the Fairchild Multifont perforator was intended to allow Linotype machines to be operated through TTS to set fonts other than the newspaper legibility faces. However, this was achieved not just by allowing the character widths to be adjusted, but also by changing the unit system from 18 to the em to 32 to the em.

There was a posting on the Typophile forums where someone who worked at Linotype remembered they were drawing fonts there to an 18-unit system and then a 54-unit system, at least so that these fonts would be usable with their forthcoming phototypesetter products. No one remembers Linotype designing fonts to a 32-unit system.

The TTS system did have to calculate where each line would end. So the existing fonts, not recut, would have to be measured, and their widths - possibly rounded down, rather than up, so that errors would lead to excessively loose spacing, and never less-than-zero spacing - set on the TTS perforator.

So, basically, this confirms your statement: fonts didn't get cut to a unit system at Linotype in the '30s because of TTS; this only happened much later, when phototypesetting systems other than the imitation hot metal Fotosetter were on the horizon.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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Yeah, DTL is into fads.

hhp

Riccardo Sartori's picture
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No, they're into "unnecessary extra effort". ;-)

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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:-)
I guess any type designer can be accused of that!

hhp

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A search for examples of the typeface "Textype" by Chauncey H. Griffith happened to lead me to some information I had long sought, so I am sharing it here in this thread where it was touched on, in case it may be useful to some:

The original TTS unit system.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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Nice! Thanks.

hhp

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And I've learned something else from this. Having this table in hand, in the context of looking up information about Linotype legibility faces, led me to look at the Presswire faces for the Selectric Composer. Those faces had narrower numerals... so I thought I would check how well the narrower size matched the numerals used with TTS.

It turns out that the Presswire faces reduced the width of the numerals to 4 units (from the normal 6) in the Composer 9-unit system; but had they been reduced less severely, to 5 units, they would have been a closer match to the 9 unit numerals in the teletypesetter system.

@kentlew:
Nevertheless, I would guess that there was a standard established for each size of Art Line that determined the placement of the baseline on the body. That is, I would expect all fonts of the same size, cast on Art Line, to align with each other. Is this not so, Jim?

The system of lining used by ATF, and by other typefounders of that era as well, generally involved three standards.

There was the normal line (ATF: American line; Barnhart: Uniform line; Inland: Standard line), which allowed about 1/5 of the type body for descenders.

There was the Script or Art line (ATF: Art line; Barnhart: Text line; Inland: Script line), for authentic old style faces and script faces, which allowed about 1/3 of the type body for descenders.

And there was also a Titling line (ATF, Inland: Title line; Barnhart: Cap line) which allowed only a minimal area on the type body below the baseline.

Where necessary, increments of 1/2 point or even 1/4 point were used - for the very small type sizes, but the preference was for every size of type, in all three "lines", to have a distance from the baseline to the bottom of the type slug that differed from the distance from the baseline to the bottom of the type slug for every other size and style of type by a whole number of points.

So, using only standard leading material, in single points or half points where needed (and 1/4 point only in the extreme case of type at 6 points or less), one could align the baselines of any face with any other, even if one was Art line and the other Standard line, and whatever their point sizes might be. That was why they called it 'lining' type.

In the Didot system, Bauer, and probably others, did much the same thing. The baseline might be 1.4 Didones above the bottom of the type body for one size of type, and 2.9 Didones above it for another; what counted was that the difference was 1.5 Didones, a multiple of half of a Didot point.

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Also, on the question of Linotype fonts being designed to a unit system:

This page,

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,855719,00.html

notes that TIME magazine used TTS machines to operate Linotype casters during World War II because they needed to send identical copy to multiple printing plants. TIME, of course, was a magazine, not a newspaper, and I do not believe it was set in one of the newspaper legibility faces.

On this page,

http://www.gochipmunk.com/html/teletypeperforator1.html

a manual is quoted as saying that the use of TTS equipment to control Linotype machines has become a general practice.

I had thought that the multifont perforators were needed because even Corona wasn't designed with the same number of units per character as the TTS version of Ionic No. 5. That they could have been used to control Linotype machines setting magazines in Caledonia, however, appears not to be beyond the pale.

Of course, this still wasn't an intrinsic limitation of Linotype. Presumably, if indeed this did happen, Linotype started unitizing its fonts sometime in the 1930s, when the advantages of using TTS for other purposes than newswires became apparent.

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TTS was used extensively in newspapers when I was a junior reporter in the 70s. The reason ... Linotypes were expensive, and had limited capacity. TTS punchers were cheaper, and you could have two (or more?) setters working on the TTS to feed one linesetter, optimizing the resource.

John Savard's picture
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Exactly!

One of the original advantages of the Monotype system over Linotype was that the Monotype caster could be kept continuously busy, at an optimum speed, playing tapes generated on multiple Monotype keyboards.

The 18-unit system was a typographical disadvantage intrinsic to Monotype which Linotype did not share. On the other hand, Linotype had the disadvantage that Roman and Italic were normally identical in width (but bold was on separate matrices, and small caps were put in their own locations), and this was more noticeable.

When the TTS system was introduced for newspapers, it was noted that it allowed a Linotype machine to run more quickly and smoothly than one operated manually.

So, given that someone who used to work at Monotype noted that they were designing their fonts to an 18-unit system, what I think may have happened is the following:

Originally, when Linotype was first designed, what you see in the advertisements and the standard textbooks was right. Monotype had the unit system, Linotype had Roman and Italic equal in width.

After TTS was introduced, and people saw the *additional* benefit of how efficiently it made Linotype machines run, popular demand led to:

  • the creation of the "multifont keyboard" which could be set up to punch tapes based on different unit values for the letters than those standardized for the newspaper fonts, and
  • Linotype making their matrices for fonts other than the newspaper legibility faces to an 18-unit system, so that those fonts would be usable with TTS.

So even where paperbacks or magazines, instead of newspapers, were being set on Linotype, the machines could still be used as efficiently as Monotype casters, thanks to TTS being universally applicable.

Gerald Giampa's picture
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Kent,

Wonderful illutration of the problem. Thank you.

We were both posting at the same time. Obviously I have wasted my time.


Gerald Giampa

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Kent,

I certainly hope you are right. I have already written Mike Parker for clarity on the matter.

But you must agree that this, (“for all typefaces regardless of typeface design.”) does not make that distinction.

I will get back to you on that.

Gerald Giampa

Héctor Muñoz Huerta's picture
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Kent what software are the screenshots from?

Gerald Giampa's picture
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Folks forgive me.

Gezzads. correcting, corrections. Will this never cease.

I will stick to “pairs of letters” of the alphabet punched into a single linotype matrice. Don’t say anything folks. This might be wrong.

Now I am not sure about anything this evening.

But I expect to hear from Mike by morning. But I am not sure about that?

Gerald Giampa
Don’t wait up for me!

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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Kent, I agree.
What I’m thinking though (and I’d have to carefully look at many glyphs in Sabon to be sure) is that the width discretization going on simply affected the “a” the most (or at least a lot more than average), and that we can’t judge the “a” adequately without knowing the target point size. Kind of hard to explain — or maybe I’m imagining it.

hhp

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H

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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I think the reason you gave (the combination of style duplexing and “width snapping”) makes total sense.

This all started when I said Monotype has at least that limitation which foundry (and digital) don’t — something that’s pretty obvious to anybody not religious about Monotype- and the blame for the width of the Sabon “a” can be attributed to that limitation, at least partially. When it comes to the Monotype “width snapping” limitation, Sabon is not a special case qualitatively, just quantitatively: the “a” would still have been too wide (just less), or maybe too narrow, even if JT didn’t have to factor in the Linotype’s limitation (duplexing) as well.

My other line of thought was just an attempt at analyzing JT’s design decisions.

hhp

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Gerald —

A picture may be worth several words. Here’s what a Linotype matrix looks like, for those who’ve never seen one. Sorry the photo isn’t better.

Linotype Matrix

This is a 14-point ‘w’ matrix (I don’t recall which face), roman duplexed with italic. This matrix is shown in its operating position — i.e., “upside down”. If you turned it over, you’d notice that the letters are actually right-reading, and the roman would be on the bottom and the italic on the top. Obviously, each letter must have the same set width.

Generally speaking, a roman letter would be duplexed with the corresponding letter in either italic or bold. (This was not the case, however, with small caps, which duplexed with other sorts. There was a standard scheme of what went with what, but I don’t have a map handy.)

I hope this helps folks trying to make sense of this thread.

— K.

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>When it comes to the Monotype “width snapping” limitation, Sabon is not a special case qualitatively, just quantitatively: the “a” would still have been too wide (just less), or maybe too narrow, even if JT didn’t have to factor in the Linotype’s limitation (duplexing) as well.


Missed this post earlier, as I guess we were cross-posting.

I don’t disagree that the 18-unit system was a limitation. Absolutely. It certainly was.

It seems to me type design is always about confronting one technical limitation or another. I actually think that’s part of the challenge and the fun.

Still, I’m not so sure that Tschichold couldn’t have made a completely acceptable ‘a’ if the Lino duplexing constraint was removed. It would be an interesting experiment to do an adaptation that still conforms to Mono unitizing, but without Lino duplexing, just to see.

For instance, the ‘a’ in my first example above seems almost completely fine in an 8-unit width. A little more tweaking throughout the alphabet and I bet you could come up with a version in which the ‘a’ appeared neither too wide nor too narrow, while still being Mono-friendly.

— Kent.

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Kent,

I don’t know. I don’t have information about what sizes were released
in each medium.


and Hrant,

Did Sabon have optical scaling or not?

let me quote from

Rodolfo Capeto's picture
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optical scaling or not?

Looking at it again here, Hrant, the sizes shown for Stempel

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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Kent, nice experiment!

> If Sabon had been designed solely for Monotype, the roman ‘a’ could have been put on 8 units

My problem with that is I think the cramping of the 8-unit Italic “a” is so slight that making the Roman “a” so much better would have made more sense.

> If Sabon had been designed solely for Monotype, the roman ‘a’ could have been put on 8 units, which would have given a more traditionally Garamondesque proportion; while the italic ‘a’ could have been placed on 9 units, so as not to be too narrow.

Conversely, if Sabon had been designed solely for Linotype (with no Monotype issues), the two “a”s would have been duplexed, but to a more satisfying compromise width.

hhp

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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Interesting.
I think the Lino boys applied their optical scaling expertise to the drawings. Would JT have allowed that? What about the small Monotype sizes? I have (actually will have, in January) access to a good size range of metal Sabon, but I don’t know if it’s Stempel or Monotype. Should be easy to tell, even without pin marks: the former would have a dark lustre, while the latter would look tinny.

hhp

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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> the Penrose Annual, 1968

I’m going to try to pick that up tomorrow at UCLA. That and a bunch of other goodies…

hhp

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Hrant,

Monotype should be easy to distinguish from Stemple, assuming Stemple has a pin mark. Odds are, with a Monotype, there will be no pin mark.

Tinny, it could be, we ran hard foundry metal, which meant running slow and hot. Our type would not be distinguishable from foundry type by colour alone.

Kent

The picture of the Linotype Matrix, is exactly what I was, poorly, trying to say. Thank you.

I agree that the unit system had limitations, but it was an engineering puzzle, not a method of soliciting customer complaint. It was a challenge as you say, but for the most part, the engineers did a very fine job.

Monotype houses were noted for typographical expertise or they would have purchased a lessor system. More skill was required in running Monotype Systems than Linotypes. Monotypes were the system of choice for both trade typographers and book houses. Not so often, run of the mill print shops or newspapers. There were many exceptions.

Lanston used typographers and fine book printers as, “Beta Testers”. Bruce Rogers was amongst them. I can assure you, non were shy with comment, each trying to out do one another as a method of showing off their typographical finikitiness. (Is that a word?) And they didn’t give a tinkers dam about punchcutters problems, or unit rows, they just wanted the typeface to pass their highest standards.

That was the primary goal of Lanston’s punchcutting department. To satisfy production oriented owners and cranky artistic and very opinionated personalities. They did so, for the most part, very well.

With “multiple typesetting system planning” the Sabon “roman and italic a’ is not illustrative of English Monotypes finest capabilities, probably the same is true for Linotype.

Criticism should be kept in perspective. This face is an exception, not a rule. This experiment in joint development was doomed to have “some fall out”.

Characters of the alphabet in the Monotype System, were not out of necessity, “too wide” or “too narrow” or as some would suggest, never quite right. In most cases adjustments were made and the type designer would never see the difference. Either did the fussy customers after their complaints had vanished. I know the problem with the Sabon roman and italic “a” could have been minimized to the point this discussion would never take place. This is a grossly exaggerated example.

However the Linotype duplex problem is an efficiency that is bound to cause problems.

But the secret to making Sabon “roman a” and the italic “b” appear correct in the Linotype version may lie in

Gerald Giampa's picture
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Kent,

And finally the old news is good news. Mike Parker has reported.

Below is Mike Parker

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Let us revisit Sabon, if Sabon has no bold, draw one. Who cares what it looks like? Lets fix that “roman a without messing up the italic a” and be done with it!

It’s been done, Gerald. Jean-Fran

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Hrant,

I think the Lino boys applied their optical scaling expertise to the drawings.
Would JT have allowed that? What about the small Monotype sizes?


going back to what Dreyfus wrote (“as well as modifying the design in its larger
sizes for the type founder”), it would seem that the small-size design was the first
to be done, no? And that’s exactly what’s stated at the Linotype page on Sabon next
that John Hudson linked to: “a design originally made in two versions for different
systems. The first was designed for use on Linotype and Monotype systems. The second
version of Sabon was designed for Stempel handsetting”. In any case the drawings
reproduced in the Penrose Annual article (that you may have in your hands now) are
of the “Stempel” variety (long extenders, narrow ‘a’). Interestingly, they also conform
to the Monotype 18-unit width grid.

In the image below, a comparison of a Stempel foundry Sabon showing (scanned from a
xerox copy) and Adobe’s digital Sabon:

Sabon

It seems to my eyes that in Porchez’s Sabon next the extenders are not quite as long as
in the Stempel design:

http://www.fontexplorer.com/isroot/FontStore/content/00_home/images/home_06/home_06b/sabon_next/sample03.gif

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And, Hrant, coming back to something you wrote earlier in this thread:

> Which 7-unit typeface(s) are you referring to?
> http://www.themicrofoundry.com/other/lino7.gif


Since you have there characters at 2.5 and 3.5 unit widths, this is in effect
a 14-unit design.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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> (I don

Gerald Giampa's picture
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Hrant,

Actually it is a simple mistake. It reads “Seven unit sizes”. But it is based on 14 units. You can have 18 monotype units and have only 1 or 2 unit sizes, such as the 3 unit type for train schedules we custom cut for American Eastern Railways. Actually digitized the face in 1989, imagine!

…….
Rodolfo Capeto words,

“The first was designed for use on Linotype and Monotype systems. The second version of Sabon was designed for Stempel handsetting”. In any case the drawings reproduced in the Penrose Annual article (that you may have in your hands now) are of the “Stempel” variety (long extenders, narrow ‘a’). Interestingly, they also conform to the Monotype 18-unit width grid.”
……..

This gives strength to my understanding of this particular cutting. Without more “surprise knowledge” of Stempel systems I would not think using Monotype’s 18 unit grid would have been standard practice.

Measures of “harmonious typesetting standardization” appear to be the very underpinning of intention for the “Sabon Project”. It would seem to me, all parties were attempting to co-ordinate usage of Sabon to service some special objective.

Few examples are so clearly illustrate the old adage, “the exception proves the rule”.




Gerald Giampa

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Hrant,

Further note, that the railway type was on Monotype’s 18 unit grid, although it was a “3 unit size”. But the railway type could be viewed, in a mathematical context, as 8 unit type. Confusing isn’t it.

Also, even though it was 12pt type, the 18 units only totalled 10pts!

Gerald Giampa
Lanston Type Company

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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BTW, I assume Sabon was optically graded. What size is that digital Sabon based on? I ask because the width decision on the “a” (9 versus 8) would have depended on the target point size.

hhp

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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Rodolfo, Kent: I haven’t read it yet, but here’s a 300-dpi scan of a page from Lawson & Bidwell’s “Specimens of Type” (1981) that might explain things a bit. Note however that this deals with ATF, not Linotype.

(~330Kb) http://www.themicrofoundry.com/other/self_spc.gif

hhp

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Hrant:

You darling little Modernist you!

Thanks for the compliment!

> the small-size design
When you say that, you’re implying there was one design for all the text
sizes, i.e. no optical scaling except to provide two cuts, one for text and
the other for display. So is that the case?


As far as I can gather from the images I

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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> Do you know the date of that system?

Nope. The 1981 book is like a collage of a bunch of previous specimens, so there’s no date. But maybe some smart investigation (like seeing what fonts were used in those pages) could narrow it down a lot.

What I can tell you is that one ATF specimen book I have which seems to be from 1904 doesn’t show anything like that, but the 1923 does. In fact the ‘23 shows a 4-unit system! But again, not “units” like you mean.

In terms of Monotype, like you implied, discretization there plays a different role than in handsetting: it’s an issue of mechanical simplcity/economy, as opposed to heuristic efficiency. A human couldn’t really work well with an 18-unit system.

More interesting is the comparison with Linotype, with their TTS. Machine composition, still, but discretization for humans.

> Or maybe Tschichold simply couldn

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Hrant,

Your example of heuristic efficiency.

http://www.themicrofoundry.com/other/self_spc.gif
……

What do you like about it? The fact the it reduces heuristic “trail and error” tasks. Frankly your example is of “hideous typography” to put it “pleasantly”. You don’t like 18 units on a keyboard because it eliminates heuristic “trail and error” tasks.

So where is that line between good and evil?

Boy there has got to be something you are not telling us.

The TTS Machine problems were compound. There were problems, big ones. It resembles your 7 unit error.

Mike Parker

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Rodolfo Capeto

“Or maybe Tschichold simply couldn

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>More interesting is the comparison with Linotype, with their TTS.

Just to clarify, TTS did not belong to Linotype. As I understand it, the TeleTypesetting System was an independent technology for transmitting wire stories to newspapers. Those publishers who subscribed to the service would receive stories via wire, which came out as punched tape. These tapes were then fed into the composing machine and produced typeset stories for the newspaper to publish. The device that interpreted the punched tape would be fitted to any of the various composing systems. Linotype was only one (arguably the most common).

The point of the unitized standard for typefaces used with the TTS was that the stories would always run to the exact same characters per line and, consequently, an exact column length regardless of the layout of the paper — specifically, regardless of the column width of the newspaper’s grid.

Thus, a wire service could wait until the last possible hour to file a late-breaking story by indicating in advance that they would have the story run to X column inches and the papers could then continue to lay out their editions by holding open X inches of space for that story. This kind of just-in-time publishing depended upon reliable, consistent character counts, and column lengths.

It had nothing to do with justification per se.

The Linotype machine required no unit-system in order to achieve effortless justification. It employed a mechanical system that I think was ingenious, but I don’t think I can describe it fully here. Basically, it employed wedge-shaped spacebands that adapted automatically to fill out the line.

— Kent.

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>But maybe some smart investigation (like seeing what fonts were used in those pages) could narrow it down a lot.

Well, obviously, the fonts used were self-spacing types. ;-)

Here’s some research along different lines:

Linn Boyd Benton took out his patent for a system of self-spacing type in 1883. The United States Type-Founders’ Association defined the American point system of type sizes in 1886. Notice that this article still cross-references the old, named body sizes.

Updike (Vol. I pg. 34) mentions that “In 1894 a western firm introduced this system of self-spacing types, every type in their entire output being placed on a body the width of which was equal to an even division of the standard ‘pica em.’” This term ‘pica em’ was apparently soon replaced by the term ‘point-set’. Note that your article still refers to divisions of the Pica em.

Given this, I am going to assert that this article dates from between 1886 and around 1896, somewhere thereabouts.

The first typeface issued by (American) Lanston Monotype was in 1896 and it was for the Model C keyboard, which I believe was the arrangement that introduced the 18-unit system. I do not know if this configuration was utilized prior to that.

Hrant, is this article specifically identified by Lawson & Bidwell as an ATF piece? Updike does not name the “western firm” he refers to. I would have thought that if it was ATF, he would have simply said so. ATF was formed in 1892 and Benton, Waldo & Co. was one of the original founders that merged into it. I can’t imagine there was any other sizable foundry left after that to introduce such a system, especially given Benton’s patent on the scheme. Yet, Updike says that every type was adapted to this system, which certainly does not describe ATF.

— Kent.

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This 1981 book is a facsimile of an older ATF specimen book. I had to read the intro to get at the original’s date (what a drag, eh? ;-) and it says it’s the Philadelphia edition of the 1896 (or maybe 1895) book.

I suspect Updike is talking not about ATF, but the Bentons’ foundry before the ATF merger.

hhp

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Regarding unit systems: there seems to be some doubt in this forum as to its value. I do not suggest that posters are detractors, but there seems to be a bit of conjecture about its flexibility. Many are aware that when FW Goudy was presented with the task of designing his Goudy Gimbel (38E) for the Monotype system, he found it a long and difficult task, having never before been restricted to the width of his letters. You have to remember that Linotype and Montype were all there was for machine setting in those days. Neither were considered crude or archaic, rather they were thought of as amazing marvels of ultimate “hi-tek” engineering. They now seem to funny to most, but they were the result of a logical evolution from hand-setting to machine setting from recirculated cold types (the Page machine) to the very first Lino and Mono machines, which were even at that vastly different from the first successful operating versions of both.

It is understandable that FWG would find this restricting. He did, however deal with it, and the type was a great commercial success, as is evidenced by the fact that many matrix cases of it still survive. I don’t find 38E to be the prettiest type ever done, but I don’t see anything wrong with its set values or fit. I maintain that it is not terribly restrictive to work within assigned unit widths for a letter. The standard C, C1 and C2 arrangements accommodate a grteat many of Monotype’s faces. This is due to none of them requiring unusually wide or narrow boundaries for an a or an e etc. What I am saying is that if a face is based on a kind of “ideal” set of proportions everything works out in the end.

In the case of certain new releases it was not uncommon to allow the type designer to create an new set of unit row arrangement for the die case and it attendant keyboard stopbars and caster wedge. This is evidenced in Goudy’s Kennerley Oldstyle, whcih uses not only its own keybar arrangement, but is also the first Monotype face to have an expanded system of 20 units. If you look through any jumbo Monotype speciman books you will come to an antire two page spread of noted Special Arrangements that expand on the standard 18 unit C arrangement.

In setting Monotype the keyboard is constantly aware of units and the calculating of them. This is an absolute requirement in the setting of tabular work. In text work one is also constantly aware of unit counting in a much simpler way.

I was not really aware that Liontype even worked on a unitizes system. What made this a revelation to me is that on the Linotype, the channels (72 or 90 channels) carrying the mats have a goodly space each side of the channels of mats, and I assumed that there was lots of latitude to widen or skinny up a character to some degree. This makes no reference to the problems of an italic and roman being on the same matrrix. So I learned something.

In setting straight matter on the Linotype, a person is not required to count units, merely to keep an eye on the assembler so that when the measure is nearly filled he or she can decide how to fill out the line. As Kent Lew has noted the expanding spacebads do most of the work just like your computer does in setting justified). In some cases, thinspaces are dropped into the line of assemble mats by handl, for situations like small caps. For a few years I was a Linotype operator on dialies and weeklies and did a lot of typesetting. On the Linotype, tabular work was terribly difficult, if the shop did not carry the proper sets of tabular values fixed spaces. If this setting was an a narrow measure, there was little room for more than one spaceband, and it was tough going. The most awkward thing I ever had to set was track results for sulky racing. This had to fit in an 11 pica column, in a special very condensed 7 point condensed gothic whose name I cannot recall. This was so unusual that the racetrack promoter carried his own set of special Linotype mats that he presented to the weekly paper in each town that he travelled to for the season’s racing, since he made his money on selling the race tout sheets. Sorry for the walk down Memory Lane. Old guys do that.

What I suggest is that with Linotype and Monotype the unit system did not cause any typeface to be a failure because of the restrictions of width. I can’t think of a face where an s or an a is pronouncedy too wide or too narrow, and I don’t think it is because I am easly pleased.
I am ignorant of the Sabon a too-wide problem, but my guess is that perhaps it was a conscious and decision by it designer. I don’t think that is impossible, since humans do make some odd choices.

It’s Saturday morning and I have just spent the last five days cutting and recutting an 18 point letter f punch. The matrix is punched and rought trimmed, so this morning I get to cast it an line and fit it … so here goes nothing …

JIm Rimmer

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Hrant —

The 1923 specimen refers to the Specimen of 1895. So that must be what you have a facsimile of. There you go then.

Re: Updike. The problem I have with understanding Updike to be referring to Benton’s foundry is that his date of 1894 would have been two years *after* Benton merged his foundry into the formation of ATF. Now, I think I may have heard that some members of ATF continued to operate semi-independently, so I suppose this could reconcile the matter.

Jim Rimmer:
>I was not really aware that Liontype even worked on a unitizes system.

I feel I must reiterate (because perhaps some of Gerald’s intervening posts may have muddied things) — the Linotype system (metal) did not require the type designer to work within fixed unit-widths. There were a few particular situations where a typeface would be unitized — for reasons having nothing to do with the Linotype system per se. The foremost examples were TTS typefaces, for specialized newspaper setting, and special faces for setting tabular matter (which, as Jim pointed out, was a real pain on the Linotype).

Let me be clear, I do not think that Linotype was superior to Monotype because of the lack of a unitizing constraint. Nor do I think that Monotype was superior to Linotype because it lacked duplexing constaints. I think both were marvelous inventions and amazing examples of mechanical ingenuity. I think the type designers and letter draftsmen (and women) did a remarkable job in both systems. Each had its strengths and its weaknesses. Both brought us, happily, to where we are now.

>It’s Saturday morning and I have just spent the last five days cutting […]

Jim, best of luck fitting that ‘f’.

— Kent.

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Hrant,

I am not so sure about that. First we must understand the meaning of this.

Mike Parkers words.
…..
“The idea was to replace linotype operators with faster tape drives. In order to justify lines predictably, each character had to have a predictable width. Fairchild established a standard width for each character expressed in a single fixed set of eighteen units to the set width em to be used for all typefaces regardless of typeface design. The wider the column width, the larger the eighteen unit set width required.”

…..

I read this to mean: Unlike Monotype where the units were based on the em of the type, The units in Linotype were simple a fixed formulae giving truth to predictability of column width regardless of type design. In otherwords the column width is more important than the type width. In any event, it appears to be quite cumbersome. And I predict your solution would not be quite that simple.

Perhaps I am wrong! I don’t think so.

Gerald Giampa

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Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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> Goudy … found it a long and difficult task

And isn’t it true that Goudy wasn’t… uh… the sharpest tool in the shed when it came to technical stuff?

> jumbo Monotype speciman books

BTW, I’ve seen the landmark specimen books for ATF and Linotype, but -besides the “Tally of Types” thing- nothing for Monotype. What are some dates for those, and which is the “best” one? For one thing, I’d like to see how [well] they did their optical scaling.

> …. the racetrack promoter ….

Great memories!

> What I suggest is that with Linotype and
> Monotype the unit system did not cause
> any typeface to be a failure because
> of the restrictions of width.

What constitutes a “failed typeface”?

> I am ignorant of the Sabon a too-wide problem

It’s interesting how some people (like me) would consider knowing about the “textbook” Sabon case central to good type appreciation, while others may not. Obviously, you’re living proof that you don’t have to know about Sabon (or that “class” of insight in general) to do great work. But still.



> I think I may have heard that some members
> of ATF continued to operate semi-independently

Some tibdits from the 1981 book:
- The American Point System was adopted in 1886.
- ATF was formed in 1892.
- First collective specimen book (with no mention of ATF) was in 1893.
- First formal ATF specimen book: 1895.
- ATF consolidates its manufacturing facilities in 1903.

So Updike’s “1894” is about a year before ATF used its own name in any specimen, and about 9 years before ATF made all its fonts in one place.

> I do not think that ….

But you do think that foundry was superior to both?
I mean in terms of type design integrity.

What did JvK think?

hhp