By Dennis Richardson
How did newspapers produce printed copies before desktop publishing, and the Internet came along?
That is a question that is sometimes hard for even an old person like me to answer.
We were there, so let me share first-hand experiences.
My first job after college was with a company in downtown Nashville that had bought a warehouse full of Linotype and Monotype machines from The Tennessean newspaper there.
ABC Typesetting used lead type and brass letters that made impressions into the lead. Linotype produced entire lines of type at a time where Monotype would do individual letters.
The completed type would be placed in galleys and read backward. When run through the inking process the words would come out in the correct order.
After a job was finished, if we were sure it would not need to be saved for reuse, the lead type was melted down for future use in molds that we called “pigs”. Pigs were normally long bars with a hole in one end to hang up for reuse when cooled.
That company soon went bankrupt as offset printing from computers could do more jobs faster.
We used photo typesetting machines by the time I got my first newspaper job. Early on people employed as type setters used punch tapes that were run through a computer to print on the expensive paper. Later on it was direct from computer to the typesetting machines.
Then along came the Mac Plus and Mac SE computers. Ones that had 20 MB hard drives cost $6,500-$7,000. Soon computers evolved to do more, store more and cost less.
Once the printed newspapers came off the web press they had to be addressed, then stuffed with the store inserts and put into the bags by addresses for the post office.
Getting the addresses onto the printed newspapers evolved from paper stencils to metal stencils to computer-generated labels to ink jet printing right off the web press.
Much has changed in newspaper production but one thing that has remained constant: the dedication and hard work put into each edition by trained staff members.
A lot of people tell me that they would much rather hold a newspaper in their hands to read than to strain their eyes to look it up on their handheld devices.
We strive to offer both platforms. The printed issue remains my favorite.
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Community newspapers are struggling to bring factual and local news.
Remember, life is better with a newspaper.