Thursday, August 9, 2018


Though I may well have seen one in person when visiting my grandfather, who was publisher of the Clovis News Journal,  I think I first became aware of the linotype machine from reading Fredric Brown. Brown was himself a linotype operator at various points in his life and supposedly would even compose stories on one occasionally. He often used newspaper reporters and typesetters as protagonists in his stories and novels, most especially "Etaoin Shrdlu" and "The Angelic Angleworm," which center the linotype machine as a supernatural entity of sorts.

The linotype machine was revolutionary, allowing typesetters to do their jobs at speeds that were unheard of in the days of hand-setting type. All but extinct now, they are marvels of pre-digital industrial engineering.

If you're interested in linotype machines, check out the documentary Linotype. It's kind hard to track down, but well worth it. Here's the trailer:

Or check out this short film about the last newspaper in America set on a linotype:

Or if you prefer your linotype information in text format and on the speculative side, check out Eileen Gunn's list of five SF stories about linotype machines, including the aforementioned Brown shorts.