An Amazing Accomplishment


I am a little late to the conversation with Joe about the Printing Press. I am obviously a bit older than he because my first job at a newspaper was as an apprentice typesetter. I will not mention the year, but X-acto knives were not part of the composing/layout process. For years the presses could be seen from the street outside the building through large windows.

Linotype machines clicked away in the composing room as they dropped one slug at a time. A heavy piece of lead called a pig hung on the machine and melted a little as each letter was formed. Galley proofs were made on a hand press which was inked by hand and then a sheet of newsprint was placed over the type and a roller was passed over it to make an ink impression. The proofs were read and then corrections were made by hand, one line at a time. Because the type was not "read right" on the lead galley, the dump man (who made the proof pages and then corrected the galleys) had to read the lead upside down and backward. The make-up people put the lead galleys together to form individual pages. They worked on heavy wheeled tables called turtles. What a different world.

Headlines were set by hand, one letter at a time. I think that typesetting is where the old saying "mind your p's and q's" originated.

One of the good things about modern cold type composition is that I can't remember seeing a corrections line put in upside down. This happened frequently with the old lead corrections. Who remembers that?

It is always amazing to me that an entire newspaper can be written, edited, composed, proofed, printed and delivered every single day. What an accomplishment. One of the papers where I was employed published 5 editions a day. They were shipped all over the state. Long live the printed news ! ! !

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