Not sure who is the moderator of the General Discussions but he or she has a heavy ﬁnger. Gerald Giampa replied to a message of mine and accidentally duplicated his message. The moderator took out his duplicate as well as my original. This forum is enough of a mess without continuity. And this is hardly the ﬁrst time messages have been “accidentally” deleted.
INFORMATION ON UNITS FOR THE LINOTYPE SYSTEM I contacted Mike Parker. I would provide a bio of his credentials, however I feel that his reputation is well enough known for his work at Linotype. Parker and Mat Carter were both founders of Bitstream, presently Parker is working as a consultant to the Font Bureau. Graciously Mike sent me this material because I asked him to clarify the Linotype unit system. Also I have a note in uppercase which is not his words. The text is in its entirety with the exception of materials at the end which were edited because they do not pertain to the Linotype question but are personal arrangements for the two of us to meet. “Dear Gerald, Normal Linotype matrices were machined to the appropriate width of the pair of characters to be placed one above the other on the matrix,typically: roman & bold roman ‘a’ for 10 point Excelsior with Bold, roman & italic ‘a’ for 10 point Excelsior with Italic, or bold roman & bold italic ‘a’ for Excelsior Bold with Bold Italic. To obtain the normal character the matrix sat on normal alignment. To obtain the auxiliary character the matrix was raised a ﬁxed amount, placing the auxiliary character opposite the mold, correctly aligned. The Linotype problem in preparing each character was to design the roman, italic, bold and bold italic versions to all ﬁt on on the same width (without, of course, permitting any character to kern oﬀ the matrix).” (NOTE,GERALD GIAMPA: LINOTYPE FIT WAS SLIGHTLY WIDER BECAUSE OF MATRIX CONTSTRUCTION.) ‘During the nineteen forties Teletype driven Linotype machines came into existence. 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. The Associated Press and United Press International distributed their stories in printed form accompanied by punched paper tape containing codes for characters, word spaces, and line endings. You would hang the tape on a teletypesetter-equipped linecaster. Slugs would emerge at a great pace as long as the machine was equipped with a TTS font with characters cut to the appropriate TTS set widths for the column width. By the 1960s the most popular newstext font had become 9 point 8 set Corona with Boldface No. 2. The most popular classiﬁed font was 5 1/2 point 6 set Spartan Book with Heavy. These two fonts were produced in huge volume, along with others like them, perhaps leading some folk to wrongly believe that all Linotype fonts were cut to the eighteen unit system. Mike Parker”
Hrant, “1) You couldn’t make it a touch wider on Monotype…” …… How much is a touch? Gerald Giampa Lanston Type Company
Kent, When was Sabon developed? Gerald Giampa
Gerald — According to my references, Sabon was developed in the mid 1960s. Bringhurst says Stempel released the foundry version in 1964, and Linotype and Monotype released machine-composition versions in 1967. Other accounts simply date the design to 1966 or 1967. Thanks for quoting Mike’s letter. This jibes perfectly with what Matthew and I discussed. Hrant — I didn’t quite follow your second point about Sabon ‘a’ above. You’re right in point 1, he couldn’t make it a “touch” wider. Examining Sabon more closely, it appears to be the result of the combined constraints of Monotype and Linotype together. The Sabon ‘a’ is allotted to 9 units, which is wide compared with the ‘e’, for instance, which is on 8 units. 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. If instead, Sabon had been designed solely for the Linotype, an intermediate width could have been designated that struck a compromise between the duplexed ‘a’s, with the roman maybe just a tad wider than ideal and the italic just a bit narrow. But Tschichold had to adapt to both constraints — duplexing 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. NB: This is just my analysis/reconstruction/conjecture; I don’t have an actual account of Tschichold’s process. — Kent.
Okay, I spent time I probably shouldn’t have creating illustrations. Hopefully this will be edifying. Here is a quick-and-dirty adaptation to show what Sabon might have looked like if Tschichold had chosen to assign the ‘a’ to 8 units instead of 9: The narrower roman ‘a’ looks elegant, but the corresponding, duplexed italic ‘a’ looks obviously cramped. Since the counter of the italic relates more closely to other characters in the italic, the discrepancy is quite noticeable. The roman ‘a’ relates less obviously to any other character, so any deviation from ideal proportions is less noticeable. A narrower italic ‘a’ is perhaps not especially objectionable in and of itself, and this design might have been accommodated by adjusting the ‘b d p q o’ etc. *But* because of duplexing these adjustments would not have been possible to reconcile across both faces. So, Tschichold had to make the best compromises he could, given the combined constraints. Here is the original to compare with: After all is said and done, I think Tschichold’s results are quite understandable and commendable under the circumstances. — K.
Hrant, Topic “Trapping” Just what is the connection? Is is “Bait”? Gerald Giampa
Gerald, I remember the trapping argument between you and Hrant from a previous thread. I have no idea which of you is correct and though I had initial, mild, passing interest in the question, the way the debate ran soon cured me of that. My current position on the trapping debate is that I don’t know, and I don’t care. In fact, I don’t give a ﬂying through a ring donut whether trapping is a real phenomena, or a fantasy. What is blindingly obvious though, is the connection between the previous debate and Hrant’s image. In the previous debate you refuted the idea of ink trapping by (among other things) suggesting that the pantograph was not capable of cutting the sharp details required by Hrant’s trapping theory. The caption on the new picture from Hrant shows that the ﬁne detail was not in the hands of the pantograph operators, but was left to hand-cutters. If you can’t see the connection then you are either being deliberately stupid, or you are…well…just stupid.
Steve, Good morning from Finland Sorry but you and your hero Hrant are both on the wrong thread. But it sounds like the beer in Jolly Old England is a good as ever. Feeling pretty silly this morning I guess. Have a nice day. Gerald Giampa
Hrant, .0001 Gerald Giampa
Mostly for the purposes of clarifying a post I've made to
the ATypI discussion list where I linked to this thread: