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Ask the Times: End of Linotype machines, birth of 'the cloud'

Type ran hot and cold

Do you have any information as to when the St. Petersburg Times discontinued using Linotype machines and movable type?

In 1984, the St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times) published a history of its first 100 years. The Times and its times was researched and written by Robert Hooker, a reporter and editor at the Times for 40 years before leaving in late 2011.

It's a comprehensive and authoritative look at the institution, so we will quote directly from it:

"Since 1910, the Times, like virtually every other American newspaper, had used line-casting machines to set type in bars of lead called 'hot type.' The type was later assembled and locked inside a metal frame to form a page. A curved metal impression was made of each page and then locked onto the press for printing. It was a cumbersome, noisy process and invariably produced messy pages vulnerable to typographical errors.

"At (late owner Nelson) Poynter's insistence, the Times began changing to cold type in the early 1950s, when it began setting some advertising copy by photocomposition. The copy for those ads was set by special machines, photographed and then prepared for printing in an engraving process. In the early 1970s, the Times spent $19 million to convert from the old 'letterpress' printing process to the cleaner, brighter 'offset' method. One June 24, 1974, E.C. Adair came back from retirement to cast the last metal plate for the paper's last letterpress issue. Soon, even typewriters were disappearing from the newsroom. Reporters and editors now work on computer terminals."

Explaining 'the cloud'

Cloud computing seems to be the new technology buzzword. In layman's terms, what exactly is that?

Cloud computing is used to describe "anything that involves delivering hosted services over the Internet," according to the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council, a nonprofit group established in 1997 at the National Center for Higher Education in Washington. This can be as simple as Google Docs and Gmail, according to

It allows programs and applications (or apps) to be synced and shared between devices such as laptops, smartphones or tablets.

Clouds can be public or private. The private clouds often are used by businesses, which can save money by storing data on the cloud rather than purchasing their own servers, according to

In 2010, The Economist called cloud computing "the first truly global utility."

Ask the Times: End of Linotype machines, birth of 'the cloud'

04/30/12 [Last modified: Monday, April 30, 2012 4:30am]
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