Bernie Block: The Happy Printer & Typographer

I'm in the printing business which is all about the process of reproducing text.

Prior printing methods, from the Egyptians cursive hieroglyphs for religious literature on papyrus and wood, through the Arabic script printing press, and then the Middle Ages, everything connected with printing was cumbersome.

Take for instance preparing manuscripts during the Middle Ages...all done by writing with quill and ink. All this would take hours, days, weeks, months, and sometimes years to do.

Then it all started to change with movable type that was originally created by the Chinese and Koreans and woodblock printing, and used by Gutenberg who cast his letters in metal, and added to his machine a screw-type press to stamp the inked letters against paper.

The press was hand-operated and each piece of paper had to be placed in it one at a time. Still, the device was mechanical enough to make it cheaper and efficient to print books for the masses. He managed to change the world with an already-existing technology by turning it into something that anybody could buy and use.

He was the first to mechanize printing which was a watershed event that was followed by a dramatic change in literacy on a global scale. It is merely an accident of history that a Bible was the first work to proliferate via the new process, it being the most popular piece in literate civilization that survived through the Dark Ages.

While it is true that a mechanical press existed before Gutenberg, all he did was create a new kind of press, using mechanical presses with oil; he also used oil in his inks.

It was a long time after Gutenberg's press that printing techniques changed. There was printing using gelatins, mimeograph, copiers and other types of reproduction techniques. The presses changed too. They were made out of metal instead of wood around 1800 with a press that used weights and counterweights. And then on to mechanized presses that used bed-and-platen technology, and those using cylinders and rotary types.

Paper use also changed. There were, of course, the sheet-fed presses with individual sizes per final requirements. Then came paper on a roll invented in 1865 by William Bullock which was the first press to be fed by continuous roll paper.

Typesetting also changed. Until the late 19th century all type was set and composed by hand, as in Gutenberg's workshop. Monotype and linotype machines were invented whereby operators could type on a keyboard similar to a typewriter, which produced a perforated band of paper. The band was then decoded by a machine that cast type from hot metals; these machines cast a whole row of type at a time.

Today, printing techniques have been revolutionized with the use of computers. An individual uses a personal computer that is simultaneously doing the jobs of authors, editors and compositors. Even now that is changing. No longer will there be a "printer" or typographer. And I won't be a happy camper, not a happy printer or typographer.

We now can talk into a computer and it then sets the type, passes it on to a printing press directly...or even worse since a book is now available as an E-book. This book-length publication in digital form, consists of text, images, or both, and produced and published through and readable on computers or other electronic devices.

In fact, the dictionary defines the E-book as "an electronic version of a printed book."

That means, I, as a printer and typographer, am basically going to be out of business. I'm guess that means I'm going to have to learn another type of business. I hope I'll be happy with next one and it stays around so I can enjoy it!



Ancient Secrets for Creating a Happy Life...Feeling good is a part of happiness. Aristotle's concept, called “Eudaimonia" offered a recipe for it: character strength and virtues. He also taught his students to use patience, courage, temperance, friendship. Article by Derrick Carpenter,


SENIOR ONE-LINE HUMOR: I'm a Senior Citizen and I think I am having the time of my life...Aren't I?


Bernie is a real person who resides in one of our Brookdale communities. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Brookdale Senior Living.

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Comments (1)

Jim Finger
August 5, 2016
2:58 PM

Nice read.

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