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Linotype Inventor

This week (May 12) marks the birthday of a German-American whose name may not be familiar, but who created something that had a profound impact on the reading habits of all Americans, and indeed, the world. His name was Otto Mergenthaler. His invention, called the linotype machine, allowed one person to set type for printing by simply pressing keys on a keyboard — bypassing four different operations at higher speed. Historians credit his machine as the greatest advance in printing since the development of moveable type 400 years earlier. The linotype machine was first used in 1886 by the New York Tribune. That year, about 6.5 million Americans read a daily newspaper. Today’s papers have a circulation of more than 52 million each day.

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