Farewell: etaoin shrdlu

29 minutes

The last day of hot metal press before computers come in at The New York Times

Once called the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ by Thomas Edison, Linotype typecasting machines revolutionised publishing when they were invented in 1886, and remained the industry standard for nearly a century after. The first commercially successful mechanical typesetter, the Linotype significantly sped up the printing process, allowing for larger and more local daily newspapers. In Farewell, etaoin shrdlu (the latter portion of the title taken from the nonsense words created by running your fingers down the letters of the machine’s first two rows), the former New York Times proofreader David Loeb Weiss bids a loving farewell to the Linotype by chronicling its final day of use at the Times on 1 July 1978. An evenhanded treatment of the unremitting march of technological progress, Weiss’s film about an outmoded craft is stylistically vintage yet also immediate in its investigation of modernity.

Director: David Loeb Weiss

Producer: Carl Schlesinger

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