Rotary Press.

Listen about Hoe and the Rotary Press.

Typesetting In 1884, Ottmar Mergenthaler automated the Gutenberg process of hand-plucking metal-alloy characters and assembling them into words, paragraphs, and pages. With Mergenthaler’s Linotype machine, a person at a 90-character keyboard could set in motion a process that created a mold for an entire line of type, poured melted lead into the mold and then, after a few seconds of cooling, dropped the lines of type into sequences for assembly onto a page. After each line was created, the molds for the individual characters were automatically disassembled and melted down for use again.

Roll Paper Presses William Bullock created the Bullock Press in 1865 that used a continuous self-feeding roll of paper, which increased the speed of printing dramatically. The Bullock Press could print up to 30,000 pages per hour, with some paper rolls measuring up to 5 miles in length! This method of printing is still used in some printing press


Today’s printed media has a direct lineage from Gutenberg, with enhancements from the Industrial Revolution and evolving technology. Books, newspapers, and magazines remain mostly word-driven media. Production, however, now relies on chemical and electronic technology.

2.2.4 Print–Visual Integration 1. Objective: Relate the invention of halftone to the integration of visual media

in print

Although visuals are not necessarily a mass medium, photography increased the communicative power of the printed word in the late 1800s. Experiments at Cornell University in the 1870s led to technology that could mass-produce images in books, newspapers, and magazines. This new technology, pioneered by Frederick Ives, was the halftone. Ives divided a photograph into a microscopic grid, each tiny square having a raised dot that registered a separate tonal gray from a photograph—the bigger the dot, the more ink it would transfer to the paper and the darker the gray. At the typical reading distance of 14 inches, the human eye can’t make out the grid, but the eye can see the image created by the varying grays. Although crude, this was the first halftone.

At the New York Daily Graphic, Steve Horgan adapted Ives’ process to high-speed printing. In 1880, the Graphic published a halftone image of Shantytown—a break from the line drawings that were the Graphic’s original claim to distinction. Ives later improved on Horgan’s process, and visual communication joined the Age of Mass Communication.

Magazines, notably the early National Geographic, experimented with halftones too. In 1889, the magazine published its very first photograph—a halftone of a topographical map of North America. When Time founder Henry Luce launched the magazine Life in 1934, photography moved the magazine industry into new visual ground. The oversized pages with slick, super-white paper gave Life photographs an intensity not possible with newsprint. Life captured the spirit of the times photographically and demonstrated that a wide range of human experiences could be recorded visually. Both real life and Life could be shocking. In 1938, a Life photo spread on human birth was so shocking for the era that censors succeeded in banning the issue in 33 cities.

Halftone. The halftone process, invented by Frederick Ives, uses variously sized dots to transfer ink to paper. The dots are invisible except under close examination. At a reading distance, however, the bigger dots leave darker impressions, the smaller dots a lighter impression. The effect looks like the varying tones in a photograph. Watch this video simulation to see the full effect of halftones.

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