The day the linotype produced its last slug at the New York Times

I’m going out on a limb to say most of you, at least many of you, know nothing of the newspaper business other than desktop and laptop computers, websites and Facebook and Twitter and other social media forms.

You probably never used a Compugraphic or 7200 Headliner or ran cassettes of paper through a darkroom developer to see what had been typed. Much less, ever used an IBM Selectric to churn out stories and columns to send to composing to be typed into those Compugraphics so another edition of the newspaper could hit the street.

Even going back further, you have no knowledge of Smith-Corona, Underwood and Remington manual typewriters — yeah, once upon a time typewriters weren’t electric — where keys would stick together if you hit two or more at the same time. Or had to change the spool of black and red ribbon on it because the ink on it had been used up.

And those of you fitting that description have no idea of the real smell of a newspaper office, the aroma coming from the newsprint and ink and typesetters used constantly to put out the newspaper.

For those of us who remember the good ol’ days of what the business was like once upon a time, and for those of you who know nothing except of desktop and laptop computers, I draw your attention to this video from July 1, 1978, documenting the last day of the New York Times’ using hot metal type produced on linotype machines into long galleys of type, line by line by line of metal slugs with words on them, printed backwards at that. Where headlines were put together letter by letter by letter and each letter had a number value, because to know if a headline would fit over the column space, you had to count out each line. Such as a upper case W and capital M were two counts, lower case w and m were 1 1/2 points, most others were worth one, while i and j and l were 1/2 point.

Or how about “case.” There’s another term foreign to many of you if you were asked how did letters get to be termed upper case or lower case.

Find a retired journalist or old-time newspaper person, put a piece of paper with words on one side of a desk and them on the other and I guarantee you they can read that paper, though upside dow,n as fast as you can read it normally.

Those really were the good ol’ days! I’m sorry a lot of you never got to experience that.

See how it was back then with this documentary from July 1m 1978, marking the last day the New York Times produced its newspaper using hot metal type.

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