Invitation to "Inventing the Linotype" Presentation


The University of Delaware Library Assembly of Professional Staff (UDLAPS) will sponsor a brown-bag talk by Thomas Melvin, Associate Librarian in the Reference Department of the University of Delaware Library, on Tuesday, May 20, 2008, at Noon in the Class of 1941 Lecture Room, Morris Library. The presentation is titled "Inventing the Linotype: The Early Patents of the Mergenthaler Linotype Company".

The invention of the Linotype machine by Ottmar Mergenthaler in the late 19th century represented a quantum leap in the existing technology analogous to the development of the Internet in our day. The speed with which it allowed type to be set revolutionized the printing and publishing industries and created a model that would be followed for almost a century until the introduction of modern computerized typesetting. Using the patent records that are included in the papers of the Mergenthaler Linotype Company held by the Special Collections Department of the Morris Library we can trace both the development of this ground breaking invention as well as the life of a person regarded as one of the greatest inventors of all time, Ottmar Mergenthaler.

Thomas Melvin received his B.A. in English Literature from the University of Delaware in 1981 and a Masters in Information Studies from Drexel University in 1987. Since 1990 he has served as the Morris Library Liaison to the Patent and Trademark Depository Library Program that is administered by the Patent and Trademark Office of the United States. Thomas Melvin is a Past President of both the Delaware Library Association and the Patent and Trademark Depository Library Association and has published numerous articles on the use of patents as historical documents. His talk is an expansion of a presentation he gave recently at the 31rst Annual Patent and Trademark Depository Library Training Seminar in Alexandria, Virginia, entitled "Patent Documents of the Mergenthaler Linotype Company or How I Learned to Love (But Not Trust) Google Patents".