Scientific American, Vol. 88, No. 7 (Feb. 14, 1903)

The Inventions of Dr. William Church

The First Patented Typecasting and Composing machine

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1. Good Illustrations

This source has the nicest looking pictures. Let's start with them. (Click on each of the three images below for a "medium resolution" (2048 pixel wide) version.) These images were drawn in 1902 for Scientific American by C. McKnight-Smith (look carefully at the lower left corner of the typesetter image). I presume that he used the Church patent illustrations as his source. They are therefore interpretations, done 80 years after the fact. They are not primary source material. Still, they're very nice.

See the very end of this Notebook for links to full-resolution versions of these images and of the pagse they came from.

2. Image Scanning and Processing Issues

To understand the technical details of the machines, I find it useful to print out copies of the medium-resolution (2048 pixel wide) versions of the illustrations to follow along (or open a second copy of this page in another window, if your screen is big enough). Even in the original printed edition something like this (if it had been possible) would have been useful, as the description of the typecaster is mostly on p. 109 (but the illustration is on p. 116), while the description of the typesetter is on p. 116 (but the illustration is on p. 109).

The remainder of the reproduction here will be visually unsatisfactory, The magazine is larger than my scanner and I had to scan it in sections, so anything presented here will be a composite. The "stitching together" is imperfect. This is important source material, so I wanted to work from 1,200 dpi scans (the best my scanner can do). But putting together a full newspaper page at this resolution involves holding something on the order of 5 Gigabytes of image data in memory. This wasn't a viable option for me, since my computer presently has "only" two gigabytes of memory. I therefore produced the composite versions below by scaling the 1200dpi images by 50 percent, resulting in what are effectively 600dpi images. These are ok, but hardly archival.

More importantly, however, the largest and fanciest screen in the world today is a smaller and lower-resolution output device than the humblest sheet of newsprint from the 19th century. So there's no good way to see it all at once, anyway, in anything approaching the original. For that you need letterpress printing and big sheets of paper.

I'll try it in three ways: (1) as two images (one for p. 109 and one for p. 116), (2) as PDF versions of the same two images, and (3) as multiple images which won't give proper page relationships but which will be readable onscreen.

3. Composite Page Images

Here it is as two single-page images. The version visible directly on this page has been reduced to 1024 pixels in width and converted (lossily) to JPEG. Click on it to get to a 600dpi version, presented as a lossless PNG but still reduced from the 1200dpi original scans. Note that both images are composite versions and therefore, quite aside from their lack of archival resolution, should not be considered reference images.

4. Serial Images of the Text

Here is the text as individual images, forming a sort of a long single-column presentation. Print out (or bring up in a separate window) the illustrations for reference.

p. 109, left column:

(The illustrations of the typesetter and printer occupied the center columns of this page.)

p. 109, right column:

p. 116, left column:

p. 116, left column:

(At this point in the column appears an illustration of a cave in Arizona used as a prison. I'm not making this up.)

p. 116, right column:

5. Full-Resolution Scans

Here are full-resolution 1200dpi scans of these image, as lossless PNG files. The image of the press was rotated 90 degrees clockwise, and that of the typecaster 180 degrees, but these images are otherwise unprocessed.

Here are full-resolution scans of the top and bottom halves of the two pages that these came from. These are very large, and not very useful for simply looking at the pages.

These full-resolution PNGs are really only useful if you plan on using these images in a publication and need a high-quality original. They are all in the public domain.


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