Profile America -- Wednesday, May 11th. Today marks the birthday in 1854 of a German-American whose name may not be familiar but whose invention had a profound impact on the reading habits of all Americans, and indeed, the world. His name was Ottmar Mergenthaler. His invention, the linotype -- allowed one person to set type for printing by simply pressing keys on a keyboard -- bypassing four different operations at much greater speeds. Historians say this was the greatest advance in printing since the development of movable type 400 years earlier. It was first used in 1886 by the New York Tribune. That year, about 6.5 million Americans read a daily newspaper. Now that figure is close to 47 million each day. Profile America is beginning its 15th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.
Sources: Kane's Famous First Facts, 5805
Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970, p. 810
Statistical Abstract of the United States 2011, t. 1134
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