In recent years the use of photographic processes has expanded greatly, and the development of electronic devices, as well as other technological advances, has introduced a new era in the evolution of printing. The development of typewriters and personal computers capable of delivering justified and proportionally spaced copy has made possible the production of camera-ready books and has met the demands for several special types of printing.
Perhaps the most revolutionary innovation has been the introduction of photocomposition machines for setting type by photographic means. Two of these are analogous in principle to the Monotype and Intertype casting machines and have been produced by the respective companies under the trademarks of Monophoto and Intertype Fotosetter. The Linofilm is a phototypesetting machine developed by the Linotype Corporation. The Photon machine, invented by the Frenchmen René Higonnet and Louis Moyroud, using an electric typewriter connected with a computer and a photographing unit, is noteworthy. Almost exclusively electronic, it can deliver justified type on film in a wide variety of styles at extraordinary speed.
Today photocomposition has been adopted in lithography, gravure, and letterpress printing, and its use, together with other electronic techniques, has revolutionized the printing industry (see optical sensing). In recent years some newspapers have started to use pagination systems, in which newspapers are electronically composed by computer, output to a negative, and a plate is made of the negative.
Many reproduction processes other than those cited above have also been developed. Xerography, or electrostatic printing, has been widely adopted for photocopying; it is also the basis of the laser printer, one type of computer printer. It is also an effective means of producing master plates for offset printing. One xerographic device is used for making full-size reprints of out-of-print books from microfilm. Other duplicating processes of commercial importance are the Multigraph, which operates on the letterpress principle; the Multilith, basically a small offset press; the Ditto, a duplicator using a special fluid to remove ink from the master plate and transfer it to the paper; and the well-known photostat process.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.