Linn Boyd Benton – born 1844 in Little Falls, New Jersey, died 1932 in Plainfield, New Jersey.
The American engineer Linn Boyd Benton founded ATF (the American Typefounders Company) in 1892. In the 1880s, Benton invented a pantographic punch-cutting machine, industrializing typeface production. Benton’s invention simplified the process of matrix production, and paved the way for future technologies, such as Ottmar Mergenthaler’s Linotype Machine (1886). Benton’s skill as an inventor and businessman changed the American typographic landscape forever.
ATF was a conglomeration of over 20 American type foundries. Its most famous employee was probably Benton’s son, Morris Fuller Benton [see below] who worked for ATF for most of his life. The Bentons and ATF are largely responsible for the bringing of sans serif type into mainstream design usage. Throughout the 1800s, sans serif typefaces were limited to advertising and display purposes; they were almost always set very large and black on the page. Today, sans serif typefaces are used all over the world to set text as well as headlines. The breadth of the sans serif medium has grown to rival serif typography in overall usage.
The invention of the pantographic punch-cutting machine separated the designing of typefaces from their production as fonts for the first time. As the 20th Century began, increasing numbers of typefaces appeared that were drawn by type designers (a new profession) but produced by separate punch cutters. This trend continued through several technological developments, and only began to wane during the digital revolution of the 1980s, when many type designers began using personal computers to produce and distribute their fonts.
I used these two faces along with their italic versions for my early Polaroid designs. I'll show-and-tell in my next posting and we can end this brief interlude concerning typography.
Patricia Cost's book, and even the link to it, will tell the story of this gifted father-and-son team at ATF. It's my opinion that they were the greatest force to be reckoned with in this country's typography and printing. It's gratifying to know that the story of their lives allows us all to know so much about them.
These links will add more pertinent information for you:
It's best to keep that in mind when talking about typefaces, especially this one. Properly used it's graceful and beautiful. I set the disply line above almost 50 years ago with a German Berthold Staromat, similar to the clunky American Typositor. The setting is too tight, though a severe kiss-fit would be even worse. We joked that kiss-fit was all the rage then, mostly because the work was done in basements by operators who didn't understand much English.
There are many different versions of this ubiquitous face, originally designed for the English language. Below is Berthold's version, unique to them but a bit clumsy upon close inspection. The Diatronic was their entry into the digital world. The big drawback was its high cost and lack of a monitor. Typesetting was flying blind with an instruction manual in German. I sent it back after a lengthy trial run.
Below, yet another version of Times New Roman gleaned from the Internet.
Stanley Morison is usually credited with the design of the typeface, though there are others credited as well. It was cut for the most famous newspaper in the English language, the Times of London with characters a bit condensed to fit more to column widths.
" . . . . Fame has a dark side. When Times New Roman appears in a book, document, or advertisement, it connotes apathy. It says, 'I submitted to the font of least resistance.' Times New Roman is not a font choice so much as the absence of a font choice, like the blackness of deep space is not a color. To look at Times New Roman is to gaze into the void.
"If you have a choice about using Times New Roman, please stop. Use something else. . . ."
Which only proves that lawyers don't always know everything.
Times New Roman is still one of the best typefaces to be found today. It isn't always used well, any more than lawyers can always deliver a convincing argument to win each case they try in court.