A: Lyon, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France, B: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Though offset lithography from photographic printing plates gained wide acceptance as a printing technology in the first half of the 20th century, until well into the second half of the century typesetting continued in hot metal primarily by Linotype or Monotype. The first true alternative to those hot metal technologies was the phototypesetting or photo-composing machine invented in 1946 by René Higonnet and Louis Moyroud, electrical engineers at a subsidiary of ITT (formerly International Telephone & Telegraph) in Lyon, France, and called the Lumitype.
Initially finding little interest in the development of their invention in France, Higgonet and Moyroud turned to the American corporation Lithomat which decided to back development, and both Higonnet and Moyroud moved to the United States to develop their product, presenting the prototype of their first commercial machine, the Lumitype Photon, in New York in 1949.
Development of the Lumitype moved slowly, and it was not until 1953 that the first book typeset entirely by a phototype imagesetter from Photon, Inc. rather than from hot metal was published: Albro T. Gaul's The Wonderful World of Insects , issued in New York by Rinehart & Company. It contained 290, pp. and 46 black and white half-tones. The book was typeset on a prototype machine.
On its final leaf Gaul's book contained an unusual colophon which read:
"The Wonderful World of Insects derives added significance from the manner it which it was composed. It is the first volume composed with the revolutionary Higonnet-Moyroud photographic type-composing machine. Absolutely no type, in the conventional [hot metal] sense, was used in the preparation of this book.
"For over five hundred years movable type has been the tradition and the basis of printing, and its invention, credited to Gutenberg, has been hailed as one of man's greatest inventions. The first book printed from movable type, the famouse Gutenberg Bible, has become a rare collector's item.
"Until late in the nineteenth century all metal type was set by hand. The Linotype, in 1885, and the Monotype, in 1887, provided equipment for the casting of type by keyboard operation. Today these three methods remain the accepted ways for composing type.
"In 1949, the Graphic Arts Research Foundation, Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts was formed to provide high-level research in the printing industry. It has as its objective the creation of new, better and less costly printing methods. In the Higgonet-Moyroud, or Photon, photographic type composing machine—its first project—the Foundation has perfected an entirely new, faster and far more versatile means of composition which does not employ metal type.
"If, as we believe, time proves the Photon to be the replacement for past typesetting methods, then the printing and publishing industry is on the threshold of a new era. Rinehart & Company is proud that its book was chosen to be the first work composed with this revolutionary machine. . . ."
A year later, The Patriot Ledger of Quincy, Massachusetts became the first newspaper to convert its typesetting from hot metal to the Lumitype.
Also in 1954, the second book typeset by the Lumitype was The New Testament in Cadenced Form. The colophon for this book was unusually discursive, emphasizing the innovative aspects of its type layout and method of typesetting:
"This book has novel elements in both design and production. It is the first book printed in cadenced form. It is the second book composed on a Higonnet-Moyroud or Photon photographic type-composing machine, the first printed letterpress from Photon composition. The photon machine gives the unform perfection of characters and the precise control of spacing that the form requires. The Dow process of etching magnesium plates faithfully reproduces the Photon composition...."
The first book published in Europe with typesetting from phototype done on a Lumitype machine was Beaumarchais's La Folle journée ou Le Mariage de Figaro issued in Paris by Berger-Levrault in 1957.
La Lumitype-Photon: René Higonnet, Louis Moyroud et l'invention de la photocomposition moderne. Edited by Alan Marshall. Lyon: Musée de l'imprimerie et de la banque, 1995.
Marshall, Alan. Du plomb à la lumière. La Lumitype-Photon et la naissances des industries graphiques modernes. Preface Henri-Jean Martin. Paris: Éditions de la Maison des sciences de l'homme, 2003.