Described by Thomas Edison as being “the Eighth Wonder of the World”, the invention of the Linotype machine brought about another revolution in printing in the late 19th century. Until then, typesetting was carried out manually letter by letter, using the movable type system that was developed by Gutenberg in the 15th century.
The Linotype machine was invented by Ottmar Mergenthaler, who was born in Germany in 1854 and subsequently moved to the United States. His machine produced another revolution in printing technology and earned him the title of “the second Gutenberg”.
Mergenthaler’s machine produced a metal “slug” which contained a whole line of type, bringing about an unprecedented change in newspaper production. Before the invention of the Linotype, no newspaper in the world had more than eight pages. For about 80 years, from the mid-1890s to the mid-1970s, the Linotype was the industry standard for typesetting.
However, the Linotype was eventually made obsolete by the introduction of computer technology. In Australia, we only know of a couple of places where you can still see a Linotype machine in action. At Dardanup Heritage Park in the southwest of Western Australia, retired printers have a Linotype machine and other old printing equipment in operation for the public to see every Wednesday and Sunday.