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Linotype Keyboard for PC

Started by Dave Hughes, October 20, 2006, 10:37:34 PM

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Dave Hughes

Dan Cole asks via email:

QuoteDoes anyone know whether a linotype layout keyboard has been made for a PC? And if available, where would I be able to get one.

This photograph shows a linotype keyboard that connected to a computer, of sorts. It was used as a transitional device during the early days of computer typesetting and currently resides in an Australian museum.

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Pat Leary

This device had to be a response to pressure from the typographical union. The configuration of the linecaster keyboard was to allow frequently used character matrices to return to their channels quickly so the operator wouldn't run out of letters--it had absolutely nothing to do with efficiency or operator convenience/fatigue. It's difficult to imagine using a keyboard where the right hand had 80+ characters and the left had only 8 [according to the E.B. Harding system that I learned in 1950-51.]


Funny this just turned up - it's something I've always wanted to have and wondered why in the heck someone didn't make them (in quantity).  Be far better item than this computer keyboard...!  Of course, it still needs to be hooked up to ye olde computer.



The Linotype keyboard may not be the best from user's point of view, but the operator would be frustrated waiting for matrices to be returned to the magazine so they could be used again. On the other hand the QWERTY keyboard was designed to overcome the mechanical shortcomings of the original typewriter. The keys had a habit of jamming when operated at any speed. The QWERTY layout stresses the left hand, forces jumps to the top row and has very uneven finger loading. It was a success and became the standard. Studies of the QWERTY layout have shown that it is not tailored to the structure of any major European language, and the left-hand does 57% of the work. But try as they may other layouts have failed to get general acceptance.

In the event of a strike it was very easy to take secretaries, and quickly train them to operate the computer input or perforator QWERTY keyboards. Not that, that is an issue any more.
George Finn (Mechanic)
Gold Coast


Linotype Paul manufactured keyboards very similar to these which output to 8 level TTS tape, I operated several in the early 80s in Bunbury West Australia at the South Western Times.

Dave Hughes

Welcome to the Metal Type Forum Greg  :)

Don't forget we're always on the look-out for new photos and articles to put on the site.  ;D
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When we transitioned from Hot Metal to photo typesetting in the Composing Room of the daily newspaper where I worked in Stoke-on-Trent, England, there were quite a few keyboard operators who had special keyboards with a Linotype layout that were part of the Linotype-Paul computer system.

Being an apprentice, I was only trained on the QWERTY layout, so never got to use Linotype.

It was only those journeymen Lino operators who were getting close to retirement who were given Lino layout keyboards for photo typesetting because there was no point in those gentlemen being trained on QWERTY.

I've searched for Lino keyboards for PC but haven't come across any.

Dave Hughes

Quote from: Grinnygog on March 11, 2024, 08:53:49 PMI've searched for Lino keyboards for PC but haven't come across any.

Hi Grinnygog, please let me know if you do find any. I think using a lino keyboard with a PC would be quite surreal!
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