“Farewell, Etaoin Shrdlu”
1980, 29 minutes
David Loeb Weiss, Producer and Director
Carl Schlesinger, Narrator
A joint program with A to A Studio Solutions
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
A to A Studio Solutions, Ltd
47 Euclid Avenue
Stamford, CT 06902
6:15pm Cocktails, Refreshments and Popcorn; 7:00pm Film
Farewell, Etaoin Shrdlu
Filmed on July 2, 1978, at The New York Times, during production of the last edition, the documentary captured a process that was largely unchanged since 1886, when Ottmar Mergenthaler invented the Linotype machine. The invention revolutionized printing, allowing metal type to be set a line at a time from a keyboard instead of painstakingly by hand, one letter at a time.
“Farewell, Etaoin Shrdlu” caught the din of the composing room, where dozens of Linotype machines clattered away, spitting out lines of type — formed backward of the printed impression — that were locked into metal page forms. The forms were used in making the 40-pound lead page plates, or stereotypes, from which the paper was printed.
Etaoin Shrdlu was formed by striking the fi rst twelve keys on a Linotype machine keyboard, and is the approximate order of frequency of the twelve most commonly used letters in the English language. The operator hit these keys to quickly fi nish a line which had an error in it. The line was then discarded.
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