The Press: Printing a Dream

Economy-minded newspaper publishers have long nourished a dollar-saving daydream. In their profit-filled reverie, automatic machines turn reporters' edited copy directly into metal type; no high-salaried typesetters intervene. Like most daydreams, this one has always seemed too good to be true. But at least two newspapers, the Los Angeles Times and the Palm Beach Post-Times, are already deep in promising experiments that use computers for typesetterless typesetting.

The greatest obstacle to full automation in the composing room is "justification"—ending lines evenly at the right-hand margin. When the operator of a typesetting machine nears the end of a line, he estimates whether the next...

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