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Chapter 1. The State of the Art and How ... > The Building Blocks of Type

The Building Blocks of Type

The basic idea of movable type is that every letter of the alphabet, every punctuation mark, and every numeral and symbol is molded in high relief on its own metal block. These blocks are set in rows to form lines of text, and the raised shapes of the letters get inked and pressed onto paper. The common rubber stamp uses the same principle, but the type isn’t movable.

Credit for inventing movable type probably belongs to the Koreans, who, centuries before Gutenberg, were printing with reusable type blocks made from ceramic. Gutenberg’s genius was to work the concept into a complete typesetting and printing system (combining a press design borrowed from winemakers with metal-casting techniques borrowed from jewelers). The fundamental element was standardizing the dimensions and manufacture of those little printing blocks (Figure 1.1).


  

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