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Old 08-17-2005, 01:41 PM   #1
ktinkel
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Default “Farewell, Etaoin Shrdlu”

We note the death of David Weiss, who directed a 28-minute film documenting production of the last issue of the New York Times to be typeset in hot metal (on July 2, 1978).

The film, called “Farewell, Etaoin Shrdlu” — for the sequence of keys at the left edge of the Linotype keyboard — came out in 1980. Weiss collaborated with a Times Linotype operator, Carl Schlesinger.

The Times obituary explains the significance of etaoin shrdlu and describes the process of stereotyping used at the paper at the time. (You may need to register to read the obit, but it is free.)

This Wikipedia article has more information on etaoin shrdlu. Find even more information in the LETPress list archives. And there is also a comment from Paul Duensing about how the FBI thought the string etaoin shrdlu that appeared in a Seattle newspaper during WW2 was secret code to Axis spies.

Fascinating bit of holdover culture.

   
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Old 08-17-2005, 05:32 PM   #2
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_____ Shrdlu was the clue in a recent crossword puzzle I did. The answer, of course, was Etaoin.
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Old 08-17-2005, 05:40 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gerry Kowarsky
_____ Shrdlu was the clue in a recent crossword puzzle I did. The answer, of course, was Etaoin.
Gee, that was easy.
<g>

   
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Old 08-17-2005, 09:17 PM   #4
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Cryptographers are equally familiar with Etaoin Shrdlu - IIRC, it is the cryptographer's version of an anonymous sig.
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Old 08-18-2005, 12:28 AM   #5
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Some nice anecdotes:

http://www.worldwidewords.org/weirdwords/ww-eta1.htm

   
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Old 08-18-2005, 07:53 AM   #6
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Some nice anecdotes …
Nice — especially the romance of Etaoin and Shrdlu.

   
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Old 08-18-2005, 07:54 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gary
Cryptographers are equally familiar with Etaoin Shrdlu - IIRC, it is the cryptographer's version of an anonymous sig.
Interesting.

It’s good to think that it will live on, long after the Linotype has passed into history as a quaint typesetting machine! <g>

   
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Old 08-18-2005, 09:39 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktinkel
Gee, that was easy.
<g>
If you're familiar with the right industry. <g>

   
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Old 08-18-2005, 02:26 PM   #9
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I don't know if quaint is the word that best describes the Linotype machine, and its illegitmate brother, Intertype. These machines amazed me when I was younger, and I could watch one for hours ... everything moving in different directions at once, but accomplishing great things (books) along the way.

It would be a great example of teamwork for those people who put on seminars for businesses with too much money and not enough brains. All the little elements, working together under the control of the the leader ... the operator ... to get huge amounts of work done (compared to the old hand methods).

I wax romantic, I guess. I would love to own and resotre one of them. I had my chance a few years back, but was short of cash, and a place to put the thing at the time. Fewer and fewer are available now.

Don McCahill

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Old 08-18-2005, 06:08 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donmcc
I don't know if quaint is the word that best describes the Linotype machine …
Sure it is — in the sense that it was world-changing for a time, a hero of the industrial revolution. But then it plunged into obsolescence.

When I started out, it was as a feature writer and proofreader at a small city daily (in Anchorage, Alaska in the 1950s). The proofreading table was next to the Scan-O-Graver (with its endless beeps) and on the other side, the Linotype machines (with their clatter and bang). The smell, sounds, and general activity were absolutely captivating. (But it never did occur to me to buy one of my own! A press, maybe, but never a Lino!)

   
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