Miami Screening of Linotype: The Film and Talk with Director

The Wolfsonian-FIU. July 27, 2012. 7:00 p.m.

The Wolfsonian-FIU is hosting an engaging evening exploring the once-revolutionary Linotype type casting machine, which is now the equivalent of an endangered species. Called the “Eighth wonder of the world” by Thomas Edison, the Linotype type casting machine revolutionized printing, communication, and society. What place does it have in today’s world? On Friday, July 27 at 7:00 p.m. The Wolfsonian will screen the new documentary Linotype: The Film (U.S., Doug Wilson, 2012, color, DVD, Blu-Ray disc, 75 min) followed by a talk with the film’s director, Doug Wilson. A post-talk reception will follow at the nearby Betsy – South Beach. This is a rare chance to view the film on a large screen – after a limited run, it will be released digitally and on DVD in October.

The Linotype (pronounced “line-o-type”) was invented in by Ottmar Mergenthaler in the late 1800s – at the time, many people were competing to invent a machine that would set type mechanically. Merganthaler’s first working machine was put into service at the New York Tribune in 1886. Prior to that, typesetting for newspapers and books was a time-consuming process done by hand. The Linotype casts an entire line of type at one time, producing printable type six times faster than a person. The invention of the Linotype galvanized the printing of newspapers and books, quickly became an indispensable part of the printing industry, and dramatically changed journalism and society as a whole. By the early twentieth century, there were tens of thousands of machines all over the world, in many languages. The explosion of printing created jobs for highly skilled workers who became specialists in the Linotype. However, in the early 1950s photo typesetting technology began to take over the industry. By the 1970s, the Linotype was no longer state-of-the-art and the machines were scrapped and melted down by the thousands. Today, very few machines exist and even fewer are in operation.

Linotype: The Film tells the charming and emotional story of the people connected to the Linotype and how it impacted the world. The device’s highly skilled operators are in a battle against time. If their skills are not passed along to a new generation of operators, the Linotype will die completely. There is a small group of former operators that wants to save the Linotype from the scrap yard, but others see this as a fruitless endeavor. The film explores the role of the Linotype in our age of technology, why we should care about typography, and whether the machine should be declared obsolete.

The film’s director, Doug Wilson, will discuss the film and take questions from the audience after the screening. He comes to the film from a background of graphic design and letterpress printing. Following the discussion, the evening will continue at The Betsy – South Beach, 1440 Ocean Drive, for a post-talk reception.

The Wolfsonian Museum – FIU
1001 Washington Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139

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