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Double Spacebands

Started by WideSpacer, December 31, 2013, 01:05:34 AM

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I'm new here.  I'm interested in the history of printing and how it's affected the publishing industry.

At the moment I have a very specific question.  From what I've read, the Linotype operator was not supposed to drop two spacebands right next to each other, because this could result in fins in the cast line and possibly more leakage.

Was this something that was an absolute no-no, or was it something that people did every now and then anyway?  Was it a problem that was solved in later models?

How did this issue affect teletypesetter perforators?  Did the perforator (or perhaps the tape "reader") prevent repeated spacebands, or were the operators simply instructed to avoid doing it?

Thanks for any information you can provide.

Dave Hughes

Hi "WS" and welcome to the forum.

You are quite correct in thinking that a double spaceband was frowned upon, and for the reasons you described. It was also thought that it could cause damage to the spacebands.

The potential dangers only raised their heads if you were setting justified type, ie when the spacebands were made to expand.

If you were using a machine with a quadder to produce ranged left or centered work, then the problem was not so acute. However, if you wished to increase word spacing on quadded work it would make more sense to use a space matrix (eg an en).

Perforators used a computer program for justification and hyphenation. The program would not use a double spaceband, instead adding an en or other space matrix to the right side of the spaceband.

I hope this clarifies things.
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Thanks, that's very helpful.

In my reading I've been focused on earlier TTS systems that provided gauges to allow the operator to decide how to justify the line.  It's not clear how they handled this issue.  It's also not clear to me if these systems were popular, or if they only became a significant factor after the computerized equipment appeared.

I was also under the impression that the computerized equipment was more commonly used with phototypesetting, where (as I understand it) the mechanical limitations of spacebands wouldn't apply.  Although the precise details of how phototypesetting systems accomplished adjustable spacing isn't clear to me either.

Stephen Young

In computerised typesetting a series of set-up tables determined how justification and hyphenation was to occur. These were loaded into core memory when the system was fired up.

In the Hendrix/Hastech/Crosfield system you could set up the amount of interword spacing by maximum, minimum and optimum settings; kerning tables specific to font size, how many hyphen to allow in a row, default was a maximum of three, but this was determined on column width as well. These tables were general across all fonts, however they varied on the specific typesetter to be used (pre Postscript) ie Linotron 202, Lasercomp, Aps 5 or 6, Starsetter etc.

There were also font specific setups within font tables. When I installed systems in various newspaper sites around the world, the setups for output and justification were the most time consuming part of the job as each publisher had different requirements. All this to achieve readable type which largely went unnoticed when setup correctly, sometimes rivers of space would appear in columns of justified text which generally meant the setups hadn't been correctly installed.

Programmes such as Quark, Adobe, InDesign with their preformatted fonts have made this "setup skill" largely redundant as they use PostScript as an output language to laser devices.

The Linotype hot metal system using spacebands for justification, although very simple in design was elegant and mechanically complex.

Stephen Young

I should have added (it got away from me) that the the newspaper (for instance USA Today) page was set up in blocks and the type set to fit the area in copyfitting mode. Then the system made one justification pass to ascertain optimum spacing and showed the typesetter whether he was under or over in copyfit. When he was happy with the fit in the block he hit the composition key and the copy was justified correctly, any over matter is carried to another block on another page depending on the subs requirement.

There was also a method whereby the block would expand to fit the justified story available and this was adjusted on the page as required.

I stopped installing such systems in the late 90s as other technology took over.


TTS BC (Before Computers).

The perforator operator had three pointers on the perforator. One pointer indicated the maximum justification space, the second the minimum justification space.  That is the amount of space that could be used to justify the line by the spacebands. As each word space was hit these two pointers moved apart. The third pointer moved as each character was punched. When the third pointer moved to a location between the spaceband pointers the operator could then decide to end the line, either at the end of the current word or hyphenate the word. The line was ended by hitting the return key. Now if the word would not fit and could not be hyphenated, he would roll the tape back to the previous word spaces and hit the thin space key over the previous word spaces in the line. This produced a code that told the TTS operating unit to add a thin space with each spaceband. He or she would then rubout the word that didn't fit, hit the return key to end the line and retype the word as part of the next line.  If the add thin space did not bring the line into justification range the only other option was to rub out the previous word and letter space the word.

Two spacebands together is a real NO NO.

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George Finn (Mechanic)
Gold Coast

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