The Intertype was one of a small number of linecasting machines used in the printing industry. There is a story that entire words were carved from wood for printing. Johannes Gutenberg had a sudden moment of insight while carving words and wildly began slicing the words into individual letters. This was the beginning of movable type. This was a nice story but also complete fiction. Gutenberg did develop an alloy for metal type that was used for 500 years.

Ottmar Merganthaler was a German watchmaker who moved to America in 1872. He began experimenting with a typesetting machine shortly after his arrival. The first machine was ready in 1883. This machine cast the entire line of type from molten lead. Ottmar patented the machine in 1884 and formed the Merganthaler Printing Company in 1885. The first Linotype typecasting machine was put into use at the New York Tribune in 1886. He did not get along with profit driven investors and resigned in 1888. The Ottmar Merganthaler Company was then formed. The two companies merged in 1891 forming the Merganthaler Linotype Company.

When Linotype’s patents ran out in 1911, the International Typesetting Machine Company was formed. This company was reorganized in 1916 as the Intertype Corporation. The Intertype was a refined version of the Linotype. Easier to run and more dependable, the company held several improvement patents. The machines soon became the mainstay of the newspaper industry. Large newspapers had rows of Intertypes working around the clock.

The keyboard is arranged with capitol letters on the right, lower case letters on the left, and numbers/characters in the middle. A brass mold called a matrix drops down a channel into the assembler when a key is pressed. A hot lead alloy is forced into the matrices after an entire line is set. The Matrices or “mats” are then returned to the magazine at the top of the machine. A lead “slug” is trimmed to an exact length and drops into the galley. The slugs are solid but still hot. Operators had callused hands from picking up slugs right after dropping into the galley.

Return to Home Page                                YouTube channel Wrenchwiki