Tolbert Langston

Porträt: Tolbert Lanston
Tolbert Lanston and the Monotype, painting by Robert A. Thom, oil on canvas, Kimberly Clark Graphic Communications Through the Ages Series, circa 1960
Cary Graphic Arts Collection, Rochester Institute of Technology

Tolbert Langston

Founder of the Monotype typesetting method

Tolbert Lanston, at the end of the nineteenth century, was a man obsessed with the idea of creating a machine which would provide automated typesetting yet preserve all the nuances of excellence in typography and fine printing.

aus der Verlagsankündigung zu Richard L. Hopkins Monografie Tolbert Lanston and the Monotype, 2012

In Europe his name is all but unknown, but Tolbert Lanston achieved significant advancements for the printing industry. After fighting in the American civil war, he worked for the government pension department and met Hermann Hollerith, the inventor of the punch card method, there. Through his brother he became involved with the printing industry and set to improving the traditional typesetting method.

In manual typesetting, highly-paid specialists arranged metal types, picked one by one from the type case, on their composing sticks to form whole sentences. Now Lanston developed his two-stage Monotype typesetting method. First the text to be printed was recorded on punch tape, which then controlled a type moulding machine that cast each type and set it in the proper order. The inventor had thus created the first typesetting method that separated the recording of information from the creation of the metal type.