The Linotype Line

Comet, 5, (31/32, 29/30), (33/34, 35/36), and Linofilm


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The Linotype Line

The Linotype Line. (Brooklyn, NY: Mergenthaler Linotype Company, 1959.) Printing code: 190.08.2-H-XX-30X. Note: The printing codes for Mergenthaler Linotype documents were decoded in 2012 by Jim Gard of the San Jose Printers' Guild. In this case, the code "H-XX" indicates August, 1959.

Here is a local copy of the same PDF: linotype-line.pdf

A different PDF prepared from these same scans is hosted by the MetalType Library (UK).

Since this is an important document in the history of the Linotype, it seems worthwhile to present my original scans. Here they are (but note that each file is quite large; altogether these scans total about 1.2 Gigabytes):

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This marketing brochure covers the Comet (second version, with Mat-Glide), the venerable Model 5 (now the "Meteor"), the regular-width magazine Models 31, 32, 29, and 30, and the wide-magazine "Rangemaster" Models 33, 34, 35, and 36.

This brochure presents the Linotype at what might be considered the height of the hot metal era. The only major model introduced after it was the Elektron. The lineup presented is really quite logical:

The Comet was a special machine designed for speed.

The Model 5 was still in production, now given the marketing nickname "Meteor," as a simple single-magazine machine. A person born when the Model 5 was introduced (1906) would be looking at early retirement as one of these Blue Streak Model 5 Meteors rolled off the line. The Model 5 took a single standard-width 90-channel magazine, capable of 4 point to 18 point in regular set width type, or 30 point condensed set width.

For the other machines, Linotype basically took three binary variables and did all eight possible combinations.

The basic variable was the width (not number of channels) of the main magazines. The Models 31, 32, 29, and 30 all took the same regular width magazines that had been standard since the Model 5. The Models 33, 34, 35, and 36, called "Rangemasters" in marketing-speak, took wide magazines (with both 72 and 90 channels, depending) which could handle large set widths (and thus larger body sizes).

The next variable was Mixer vs. Non-Mixer. The Mixer models (29/30 and 35/36) allowed matrices from two magazines to be mixed in the same line, without magazine shifts. The Non-Mixers (31/32 and 33/34) did not.

The final variable was the presence or absence of side magazines. Each of the four possible configurations defined by regular vs. wide magazines and non-mixer vs. mixer could be had either with or without side magazines. Thus, the Model 32 was a 31 with side magazines, the 30 was a 29 with side magazines, the 34 a 33 with side magazines, and the 36 a 35 with side magazines. In each case, these were 34-channel "wide" side magazines.

At first glance it appears as if there is a fourth variable: the ability to use both 72-channel and 90-channel main magazines (vs. being limited to only 90-channel main magazines). This distinction is indeed present, but it isn't worked through "combinatorically" as are the three variables noted above. The advantage of a 72-channel magazine is that, having fewer channels, the channels can be wider. This allows wider set widths, which in turn allows larger body sizes. In other words, a machine which can handle both 72-channel and 90-channel main magazines is more capable of mixing straight composition and display composition. The disadvantage of a 72-channel magazine is, of course, that it can carry fewer characters.

In the regular-width magazine set of machines, the Models 29/30 Mixers are 72/90 machines, but the Models 31/32 Non-Mixers are not. However, in the wide-magazine "Rangemaster" machines all four machines, both Mixer and Non-Mixer are 72/90. These are later machines, and presumably thus more capable. So the only odd machine out is the (very popular) Model 31 (and Model 32, the side-magazine version). I suspect that this is for historical reasons. (Note though that there was an earlier "2-in-1" variation of the Model 31 which did allow both 72 and 90 channel magazines; this "2-in-1" machine is not mentioned in the present brochure.)

I believe (but am not quite certain) that all of the Non-Mixers shown here were single-distributor machines which required a magzine shift to change magazines. Intertype made double-distributor Non-Mixers, which allowed the selection of one of two magazine by selecting the distributor rather than shifting the magazine. The only other variation would have been the remarkable Linotype Model 9, a four-distributor, 4-way Mixer. It is not present in this description of The Linotype Line.

For each machine (excluding the Comet), the magazine capabilities were these:

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