Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Communication Revolution


Smart newspapermen of the time paid attention when the telegraph was invented. The New York Herald, the Sun, and the Tribune had been founded recently. The proprietors of these newspapers saw that the telegraph was bound to affect all newspapers profoundly. How were the newspapers to cope with the situation and make use of the news that was coming in and would be coming in more and faster over the wires?

Improved Newspaper Presses

For one thing, the newspapers now needed better printing machinery. Steam-powered printing in America had begun. New printing presses were introduced in the United States by Robert Hoe at the same time as Samuel Morse was struggling to perfect the telegraph. Before steam power, newspapers printed in the United States used presses operated by hand. The New York Sun, the pioneer of cheap modern newspapers, was printed by hand in 1833, and four hundred papers an hour was the highest speed of one press. Robert Hoe's double-cylinder, steam-driven printing press was an improvement, however, it was Hoe's son that invented the modern newspaper press. In 1845, Richard March Hoe invented the revolving or rotary press letting newspapers print at rates of a hundred thousand copies an hour.
Newspaper publishers now had the fast Hoe presses, cheap paper, could type cast by machinery, had stereotyping and the new process of making pictures by photoengraving replacing engraving on wood. However, the newspapers of 1885, still set up their type by the same method that Benjamin Franklin used to set up the type for The Pennsylvania Gazette. The compositor stood or sat at his "case," with his "copy" before him, and picked the type up letter by letter until he had filled and correctly spaced a line. Then he would set another line, and so on, all with his hands. After the job was completed, the type had to be distributed again, letter by letter. Typesetting was slow and expensive.

Linotype and Monotype

This labor of manual typesetting was done away with by the invention of two intricate and ingenious machines. The linotype, invented by Ottmar Mergenthaler of Baltimore, and the monotype of Tolbert Lanston, a native of Ohio. However, the linotype became the favorite composing machine for newspapers.


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