Old Linotype machine brings past into the future

by Becky GINOS bginos@davisclipper.com BOUNTIFUL—Nowadays people get news from a variety of sources, from actual papers to apps on a device. However, in the early days putting out the news was a little more work. The Bountiful Historic Museum has made it possible for visitors to reach back in time and see what it was like to create the pages of those newspapers with an old Linotype machine from the 1920s. R. Gail Stahle, owner and publisher of the Davis Clipper, donated it to the museum. “The machine created lines of type that the keyboard operator typed,” said Jon Simmonds, content/display developer for the museum. “It would drop down different letters through slots in the same sequence. They had a narrow window to correct anything without shutting down the works.” Molten metal lead would go into each line as it was completed and be captured in a cylinder in the back, he said. “Then it was injected into each line of typeface to create a new line of type. It has hundreds and hundreds of parts. Then they would pull the lines off and bank (assemble) them to create text in order and column width,” said Simmonds. “It could all be adjusted on the machine to fit the different column lengths. It was all worked out in the process then taken to the printer.” It wasn’t easy getting the nearly 2,000 pound Linotype into the museum. “They had to use a forklift and it put a dent in the floor,” Simmonds said. “There’s reinforcement in the floor.” Next to the Linotype is a more modern display that connects the past with the present. Housed in a replica of an old printer’s cabinet is a computer screen and keyboard where visitors can type in names or events to search the University of Utah Clipper archives to see if their relatives show up in the paper. The archives date from 1892 to 1992. “It’s showing the change to online news,” he said. “Our tech guys have helped engineer it so it does what we want it to do. Down the road you’ll be able to print it out.” Simmonds is also working on installing a video explaining how the Linotype worked. “We’re hoping all the exhibits will have an interactive component to them,” said Sandy Inman, director of the museum. “We don’t want this to be just a grandma’s attic museum. It will be different – it’s a work in progress.” This isn’t the first museum Simmonds has helped with. “I’ve done interior and architectural design and I was asked to do the Trolley History museum,” he said. “It was an opportunity to design and do creative things and also satisfy my passion for history.” “He came in to get some photos from us and we met him,” said Inman. “We went to see the Trolley and asked Jon to do our museum. It was a miracle it really worked out. He has such a creative mind and does wonderful things.” The museum is located at 305 N. Main Street. In conjunction with Bountiful Handcart Days, there will be an open house on Saturday, July 21 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. with activities for children and the cabin will also be open to the public.


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