The Graphotype

Many thanks to Robin Kenworthy for sending in this article, originally published in a book called “Typographical Printing Surfaces” shortly after 1907. The Graphotype was an early rival to the Monotype system, but had the keyboard and casting system in the one machine.

Robin has a museum-worthy collection of machines, type and matrices as well as an extensive library on the subject of letterpress.

Graphotype (new model) composing and casting machine; view of right-hand side from the front

Work has been steadily proceeding on the Graphotype in America, and an improved machine was evolved in which the matrix-plate comprises 225 characters and spaces.

This new model is due mainly to the inventive effort and mechanical skill of W Nicholas and W Ackerman.

In the first place, the keyboard and its electric connections were modified so that the typewriter layout, repeated for each fount, capitals and lower-case, both roman and italic could be adopted.

A machine with this keyboard layout was exhibited in Madison Square Garden in May 1907, and the claim is advanced that the adoption of this principle by the Graphotype was made prior to its adoption by the Monotype.

The range of set widths available was increased by dividing into sixteen equal parts the body, or the maximum set width selected for the quad, as in the Monotype.

The set widths range from 4-unit to 16-unit inclusive, there being three rows 8-unit (en quad), and two rows 10-unit.

This arrangement may, however, be modified or changed according to the width of the alphabet to be adapted.

Graphotype keyboard
Graphotype improved keyboard layout.
Graphotype (new model) composing and casting machine; view of right-hand side from the back.

A further improvement introduced is to make the unit for justification also equal to one-sixteenth of the full set, or body measurement, and to provide for the distribution of from one to sixty-four of these units, by which the line may be short when measured, over the spaces in such manner that no one justifying space shall differ by more than one unit from any other in the line.

That is to say, the method adopted is to cast spaces each a multiple of the unit, but not necessarily equal to each other; it is furthermore arranged that where inequality occurs the wider spaces are cast first in one line and last in the next line, so as to keep the appearance of the justification more uniform.

The perforated ribbon has guide-holes at one side only, as in the Goodson machine, and two sets of perforations, each in one of the fifteen positions available, are used for the production of each character; two sizes of hole are used, a large one for determining the row, and a small one for defining the individual character in the row selected.

The fifteenth or last perforation of one set is devoted to the trip, and of the other is devoted to the spaces; these holes are large and small respectively.

In this form of the Graphotype the composing mechanism or keyboard perforates the paper strip which is then rolled up and is worked backwards in the casting machine in the same manner as the Monotype.

The perforating and selecting devices as well as the other mechanical movements of the Graphotype keyboard and casting machines are electrically operated; the current for operating can be obtained from any ordinary continuous-current electric lighting or power supply.

A new model of the Graphotype machine has been produced which is a one-man machine, for the whole work of composing and casting is performed on it; this machine contains several novel and original features.

Graphotype (new model) composing and casting machine; enlarged view of the right-hand side showing controller magazines and controller-elements

The system adopted for composing and justifying a line of type is as follows:-

The first action of the operator is to set a trip controller, which is deposited in the main receiving channel or magazine.

Next, controllers for each character of of the first word of the line are successively set.

Then a controller for the first word-space of the line is set.

The setting of a word-space controller gives no indication of the size of that particular word-space.

Every word-space controller when set is exactly like every other word-space controller, that is it simply denotes that at that place in the line there shall be a word-space; it gives no indication of what size any word-space shall be.

The sizes of the word-spaces are attended to when the end of the line is reached.

After the first word-space controller is set, controllers for the successive characters and word-spaces of the line are set in their order.

When the units-register indicates that no further whole syllable can be included in the line, the operator sets a line-justification controller, the function of which is to set the various moveable parts of the casting-machine justifier so that the word-spaces of the line are of such a size or sizes as to fill out exactly the predetermined measure to which both the type-galley and the units-register have been previously set.

Obviously, the units-register will indicate that some of the predetermined units of length of line have not been used up by the sum of all the various unit values of the type and word-spaces in that line — the units-register having registered four units for each word-space, although the line justification mechanism may subsequently give these word-spaces a greater width.

When the justification controller has been set, it is deposited in the the channel of the supplementary magazine separate from that which contains the trip controllers, character controllers and word-space controllers.

The outlets of these two separate channels meet, and there is a mechanism provided for removing controllers from these channel outlets, one at a time, and presenting them in proper order to the index-head which controls the circuits of the casting machine.

Graphotype (new model) composing and casting machine; view of the left-hand side from the back.

Further mechanical arrangements present the controllers automatically to this index-head in the following order:-

(1) Trip controller; (2) justification or justifier setting controller; (3) character controllers; (4) word-space controller; (5) character controllers; and so on until the end of the line, when another trip controller is presented ahead of the justification controller for the following line.

The trip controller serves to trip into action those mechanisms which annul any previous setting of the justifier and which bring forward its movable components so that they are in position to fall back on such moveable stops as may be set by the justification controller which follows.

When the justifier has been set, as described above, it retains its setting during the entire line, because none of the moveable stops can drop, for they are all provided with lips or undercutting to prevent dropping.

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