1950 – 1959


• The A.B. Dick 350 is a small one color printing press which will remain in production in the US until 1986. This duplicator creates the business of quick printing.

A.B. Dick 350 small offset press


• The first drupa trade show is held in Dusseldorf, Germany. drupa, which stands for ‘Druck und Paper’ (print & paper), is a specialist trade fair for the printing industry. The Original Heidelberger Tiegel printing press is one of the highlights. At the same show, five different models of the Linotype typecasting machine are on display. During the fifties, there are worldwide over 100000 of these machines in use. The image below shows the Linotype Model 31.

• Dr.-Ing. Rudolf Hell GmbH develops the Klischograph, an electronic engraving machine for producing letterpress printing plates.


The Wonderful World of Insects is the first book that is completely typeset using a Lumitype.

The Wonderful World of Insects - first phototypeset book


• The Quincy Patriot Ledger is the first American newspaper that invests in photocomposition by installing Lumitype-Photon 200 systems. The machines, of which the output unit is equipped with a punch tape reader, glass type disks, and 12 lenses, are said to be three times more productive than hot-metal linecasters.

• The Mergenthaler Linotype Company demonstrates a pre-production version of the Linofilm type-composing machine. The Linofilm consists of two parts, one containing a keyboard hooked up to a device to write punched tape, the other being the output unit. This unit contains a set of glass plates with a matrix of 88 characters inscribed on them. To compose text, characters from such a plate are exposed using an optical system that includes a shutter. This shutter, similar to the one used in the lenses of today’s digital cameras, consists of very thin, overlapping metal blades. Instead of always opening at the same point at the moment of exposure, it opens at the position of one of the characters on the glass plate. This mechanism is capable of producing 12 characters per second or 43,200 per hour. Optional units are available to still do text corrections on the punched tape and to increase the available font sizes up to 100 points.

• 3M introduces the Color Key overlay proofing system.

• The second drupa fair is a major success with 226388 visitors. The show highlights are engraving machines for letterpress printing. Grapha, which is now known as Muller Martini, exhibits its first fully automatic saddle stitcher with an in-line trimmer.

• Addressograph-Multilith introduces the Multi-1250 press. Together with the AB Dick 350, it will dominate the small offset (duplicator) market in the years to come.

The Multi 1250 offset printing press from the mid '50s


• Howard Kettler designs the Courier typeface for IBM. It is originally used for their typewriters but eventually also gets shipped with operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows 3.1, and with many RIPs.

Courier New Regular


The picture below shows the cutting edge technology of the day: a 5 MB IBM hard disk is shipped to a customer.

Shipping a 5 MB hard drive


• The Univers typeface, designed by Adrian Frutiger and marketed by Deberny & Peignot and Monotype, is one of the first commercially successful fonts that was initially designed for use on Photon photocomposition machines. Below you see the typeface on a Lumitype-Photon font disc.

Photon Lumitype font disc

Letraset starts marketing dry transfer letters.

• Press manufacturer Harris-Seybold merges with Intertype Corporation.  Harris-Intertype Corporation manufactures hot metal linecasters such as this Monarch from 1978.

The Monarch linecaster

• Russell Kirsch makes the first digitized photo by creating a 176×176 pixel scan of a photograph of his three-month-old son. The computer used wasn’t capable of storing more information.

scan of a photograph by Russel Kirsch


• H. Berthold AG, a German company, introduces its first typesetting equipment. The Diatype is a desktop-sized machine for setting headlines and short pieces of text. By moving a trigger on the front of the machine the operator can select characters from its glass font master disc. The system is nicknamed the ‘duck-shooter’ in the UK. Typesetting equipment gets a lot of attention during the drupa 1958 show.

The Diatype was a small cold type machine for setting headlines

• The Optima typeface, designed by German typeface designer Hermann Zapf between 1952-1955, is released. It becomes an instant success.

Optima Roman


• The Lumizip 900 sets a new speed record by imaging 200 to 600 characters per second or more than 2,000,000 per hour. It reads the text off a magnetic tape. The first book composed with a Lumizip is the ‘Index Medicus’, which is imaged in 12 hours. Producing the same book on a tradition Linotype would have taken almost a year!

• The Haas Type Foundry in Switzerland releases the Helvetica font, designed by Max Miedinger and Edüard Hoffmann. Within a few years, this becomes one of the most popular typefaces of all times. The sample below is from the slightly reworked Helvetica Neue 55.

Helvetica Neue 55 font


5 February 2017

6 responses to “1950 – 1959”

  1. Brad says:

    I guess I should have added that he purchased it used sometime in the late 50s. He was able to buy it because the company he worked for was buying new equipment.


  2. Brad says:


    I’m trying to track down the brand of printing press that my dad used to use back in the late 50s and early 60s. All I know is it was an offset printing press, that was around 5′ to 6′ long, paper was loaded on the right end of the machine and inks were smeared on rollers in the upper middle/right of the machine. I’ve looked at some AB-Dick machines and the are at least similar in design but I dont think it was an AB-Dick machine. If I ever see a picture of it I will definitely recognize it.

    Any suggestions on how to proceed?



    • gasjr4wd says:

      odds are it was a MULTILITH 1250. they seemed to be in every place. however, your description could be just about any small offset duplicator.

  3. Charles Sweitzer says:

    I have worked on Photons most of life in the printing business and now starting to collect printing history

    Charles Sweitzer

    • Douglas Micklon says:

      I started working for Photon April 1, 1968 in Wilmington, MA. I would be interested in learning about any information that you have about Photon.

  4. Linda Smith says:

    I was wondering if you would know of any printing history collector that would like to have 2 photon glass discs? They look like the ones in your 1957 picture. Thanks,