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Old 08-17-2005, 12:41 PM   #1
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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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