First Fully Automatic Computer-Directed Typesetting System
What is claimed to be the world’s first fully automatic computer-directed typesetting system is now in operation at the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune. All news and classified advertising type is being set via an IBM 1620 computer and IBM 1906 Mod 2 Buffer control—less than three week’s after the equipment’s arrival.
Unlike previously existing computerized typesetting operations, the new system provides an uninterrupted flow of information from tape perforator to linecasting machine.
Fully edited news and classified copy is received by the perforator operators, who punch unjustified paper tape. It is stored between the perforator and a Teletype CX reader until the operator signals the buffer that the story or take is completed.
Then the story is transmitted in the form of an electronic signal through the buffer to the computer. There, it is automatically justified and hyphenated, if necessary. The electronic signal returns through the buffer to one of the Teletype BRPE reperforators located on each of six Intertype Monarch linecasting machines. The reperforator produces paper tape for the linecasting machine at a rate of nearly 110 characters per second.
The time lapse in transmitting a single character from the perforator to the reperforator is about five to six milliseconds. The computer is capable of scanning information at a rate of about a million characters per second, but is limited by the speed of the transmitting equipment, which is 110 characters per second.
Tape produced by the reperforators is fed automatically and continuously into the linecasting machines, each of which produces 675 to 725 lines of type per hour.
In determining whether or not a reperforator is available, the buffer works under computer guidance to seek out those linecasting machines geared to set the required column width, type style, and size required for any given story.
If a linecasting machine for the type style and column width needed is not immediately available, the buffer directs the computer signal to the reperforator at the linecasting machine which most nearly meets those needs—for instance, one with proper type, but greater column width. The computer stops the linecaster when it reaches that copy and indicates all the changes to be made.
Such an occurence is rare, since the composing room staff gears the linecasters to fit the requirements of the copy flow. Classified ads, editorials, and features, for example, are set early in the day, and then most of the linecasters are mobilized to produce the 9-point, 11-pica “hard news” type.
Hyphenation is accomplished in the following manner: when a word must be divided at the end of a line, the computer first scans an “exception word” dictionary, which contains 100 to 125 frequently used words which the computer has been known to hyphenate incorrectly. If the word is not there, the computer determines the number of syllables and vowel count of the word. It then scans a special hyphenation probability table to determine the best dividing point.
The new high-speed IBM computer typesetting system at the Tribune is just one in a long line of new devices which have been introduced in the Tribune plant.
These include Intertype Monarch linecasting machines, the Dowetch process, packlessmats, a central push-button panel for controlling ink flow on the press, and counter-stacking equipment.
The Monarch prototype was tested at the Tribune, and the paper was the first in the country to order this equipment. Six are now in use as part of the high-speed typesetting system. Capable of producing 14 lines of type per minute, the machines are averaging 675 to 725 lines or more an hour.
Extensive experimentation during the developmental stages of the Dowetch process was conducted at the Tribune. It cuts deep-engraving time from an hour or more to 20 minutes. This process, used regularly, was a necessary step in the Tribune’s pioneering in photocomposition. Now, 98% of the paper’s display advertising is produced in cold type.
Type for these ads is set on five Intertype Fotosetters which can produce 49 different kinds of type in sizes from 3-to 72-point.
For more than 10 years, the Tribune has successfully pioneered in the use of various types of packless mats. Recently, the paper has been field testing E-Z Pak on its page mats in daily production. The Tribune was one of the first papers to use the Sta-Hi dual router for stereotypes, which simultaneously routs two curved plates.
In 1959. the first centralized press-control panel was installed and tested in the Tribune’s pressroom. It continues in daily use. Through the panel, a pressman can control ink flow on any column on any page by pressing a combination of buttons.
This article first appeared in the February 1964 issue of The Inland Printer/American Lithographer. Although uncredited, it is most likely written by Alexander S. Lawson.