TYPE-SETTING MACHINES. The first type-composing machine on the records of the English patent office appears to be that of Mr. Church, and the specification of his patent is dated Mar., 1822. This, after a lapse of 20 years, was followed by a number of others• scarcely a year passing without one or more being made the subject of a patent. Moreover, some of them, among others those of Young and Delcambre, were for a long time before the public. For at least half a century, therefore, the con struction of a useful type-setting machine has been a problem which a number of in genious men have tried to solve, but it is only within the last year or two that there has been anything more than the mere appearance of success. If the reader will look care fully at a page of printed matter, he will notice that the spaces between the words are not equal. and he will easily understand that to reduce this inequality to a minimum, requires skill and experience if the work is to go on swiftly. It is in the doing of this, which is called "justifying," where a machine fails, because another operator must afterward space the machine-setting into lines of equal length. It is comparatively easy to construct a machine which will, by sonic mechanical arrangement, drop any required letter from a series of files or reservoirs of types, through a channel which it to a composing-stick—that is, which will set up type, in any required order, but with exactly equal spaces between the words; but the difficulty of justifying has not yet been got over. Still, as that operation can be performed by girls at comparatively little cost, there is a deci led advantage in favor of the machine.
In the early composing-machine by Church, "the types are arranged in files in a case at the top, each file being directly over a slit in a horizontal frame. One of a number of jacks protrudes through each of these slits, each jack being connected with a key in a manner somewhat similar to the jacks and keys of a harpsichord." On the depressing of any particular key, the undermost type of the file is pushed into a race, from which it passes to a composing-stick. It is surprising how closely this description conveys to ns the lcaddg idea in most of the type-composing machines invented since 1892. Hat tersley's machine, for example, which was patented in 1857, has somewhat analogous m wements, but the keys are arranged more like those of a concertina, and the details are different. This machine, which occupies a space of about 2 feet by 3, has a hori z mal top stage on which is placed a partitioned tray, containing the rows of types run ning from back to front, each row being of coarse all the same letter. Descending vertically along the front of this tray is a series of as many wires with pistons as there are rows of types, and these pistons are depressed by the keys acting by bell-cranks, and then return to their first position by means of india-rubber bands or springs. A
propeller kept in a state of tension by an india-rubber string is placed in the rear of each row of types, and draws them forward to the piston. When the girl working the machine presses down, say an e key, it depresses the e piston, which pulls down with it an e type, and drops it into a tube or channel which conveys it to what represents the composing-stick, and so on with every other letter, figure, comma, or "space." The series of channels converge to is focus or common outlet, through which every type is succession passes to its proper place. Machines on Hattersley's principle, with the de tails much improved by Mr. Fraser of Edinburgh, are at present in use by a large print ing firm there. With one of these machines a girl can compose from "copy" at the rate of from 10,000 to 12,000 types per hour, hut this rate can hardly be maintained con tinuously, the strain of such rapid setting being too great for the operator. The types are set in long lines, and require afterward to be " justified." This is done by another girl, who, with the aid of a slip of brass of the desired length of line, forms the matter into pages, spacing out each line as she proceeds.
The want of an efficient distributing machine has hitherto been the great drawback to the adoption of composers, but Mr. Fraser has met this difficulty by constructing a distributer which bids fair to supply the want. It separates the different letters by a series of switches acted upon by keys similar to those of the -composing-machine. On the depression of a key, the corresponding switch is opened, and the type guided to its proper compartment in the composing-machine reservoir. Type-setting and distributing machines, like the above in their plan of working, have been in operation for several years in the Times office, one of which was exhibited at South Kensington in 1872. Another composing-machine, by Mr. Mackie, of Warrington, deserves notice for the ingenuity shown in its construction. It is much more elaborate than any of those above referred to. The first operation is to perforate slips of stiff paper, which is done by a separate machine. These slips, when perforated, represent the words to he composed, and are then passed to the composing-machine proper.. In it the types are placed by hand in a series of boxes above the circumference of a large wheel, which is made to revolve, and at each revolution a certain part, acting in concert with the previously perforated paper, comes in contact with mechanism which releases the desired types at the proper time, and carries them forward to a point, where they are pushed off into lines in the composing-stick.