Rogers (for the Justowriter) Now Visible on the Web

John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 425
edited March 28 in History of Typography
The book Anatomy of a Typeface by Alexander S. Lawson mentioned that Bruce Rogers was hired to adapt his typeface Centaur to the Justowriter.

As the Justowriter offered only the same limited proportional spacing as the IBM Executive typewriter, the results were, of course, mixed, as the book noted.

I wondered what it did look like, but I could find no source for an image of the typeface.

I have now found a page on the "Computerarium" web site with a Justowriter brochure including a sample of Rogers on its back cover, so my curiosity is now sated. As well as there being a specifically named and identified sample of the typestyle on the back cover, the sixth page of the brochure appears to be in Rogers as well.

Comments

  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 1,559
    Thank you, that is very interesting.
  • ivan louetteivan louette Posts: 256
    Yes very interesting ! Thanks for the link ! Brochure Page 5 is entirely typed with Rogers type and this is very special and intricating to see.
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 425
    I am glad that this was of interest to some people here. I know that I, personally, have an interest in the Selectric Composer, the IBM Executive typewriter, the Justowriter, and the Varityper, and I've talked about them a bit on my web page, but I thought they might be too limited in quality to be of great interest here.
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 1,559
    I almost bought a Selectric Composer last year!
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 425
    I had owned an Electronic Composer for a time, buying it as government surplus. I ordered a couple of elements for it from IBM, but then IBM discontinued selling such elements.
  • Stephen ColesStephen Coles Posts: 753
    edited March 29
    Thanks for sharing! This catalog proves how new type styles that were designed specifically for width-limited systems work much better than adapting oldstyle serifs (such as Rogers’ Venetian) into the same system. Look at the evenness of Galvin or Documentary compared to Rogers, which is like cramming a gazelle into a straitjacket.
  • ivan louetteivan louette Posts: 256
    @Stephen Coles Of course you are right about adaptation. But I remain touched by the effort done :smile:
  • Jens KutilekJens Kutilek Posts: 226
    How did the Justowriter’s unit system work? From the samples in the brochure, it looks like the different type styles could use different widths for a letter? E.g. the P in TYPE looks very wide in the Secretarial and Documentary fonts, but narrow in Galvin, Rogers and the 8 point font.
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 425
    edited March 29
    The Justowriter was a proportionally-spaced version of the Flexowriter. Both the Flexowriter and IBM's typebar electric typewriters derived from the same source, a company acquired by IBM, but with another company retaining the rights to use the design for machines that used paper tape and/or connected to communications lines.

    The Justowriter, therefore, used the same proportional spacing system as the IBM Executive typewriter. Characters could be 2, 3, 4, or 5 units wide, and the size of a unit could be either 1/32", 1/36", or 1/45".

    That being said, in one important respect I can't answer your question. I once owned a Justowriter Recorder-Reproducer that worked, and I know it was a counting keyboard; when one pressed the "New Line" key, it added to the paper tape information about what was left on the line.

    Thus, although the brochure doesn't mention this, presumably one would have to use a Recorder and a Reproducer that have typestyles with spacing that matches.

    Also, of course an adaptation of Centaur to a coarse unit system is unlikely to be fully successful. What I've found is that Bruce Rogers did this in 1948, and at the time he was short of money due to an illness. And, of course, IBM with its Executive typewriter, as well as Friden (this brochure being by its predecessor in owning the Justowriter) sought to offer a variety of typestyles, so they didn't limit themselves to faces designed from scratch for those machines.

    It's certainly possible that Rogers would have worked better, for example, if the design of the letters "i" and "l" were more radically altered from that in Centaur so that they didn't look letterspaced.

    In the related case of monospaced "typewriter" faces, note that for the Selectric, Bookface Academic was never that popular, and one could get faces for the Selectric that looked like traditional typewriter faces, and they also weren't that popular. Instead, the most popular Selectric typefaces were Prestige Elite and Courier, which occupied a middle ground between resembling printer's type or being altered radically to look better when monospaced.
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 1,559
    The IBM Selectric Composer applied the same proportional-widths system across all its fonts. That is, if a letter was 5 units wide, it was five units wide in all the proportional fonts for the device.

    I don’t know if the Executive or the Justowriter had that same feature/limitation.
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,128
    edited March 30
    I used a Compugraphic Execuwriter Jr. at one of my first jobs in 1977. It was a budget phototypesetter and, like the machines above, had a limited unit system. Like the Selectric Composer, it used the same set of unit widths for all fonts.

    However, the unit size could be scaled up or down for wider or narrower fonts by physically swapping out different gears. (I used this to get tighter spacing for display use.)

    The reason I bring this up is, I'm wondering if these other machine had anything like this.
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 425
    edited March 30
    The IBM Selectric Composer applied the same proportional-widths system across all its fonts. That is, if a letter was 5 units wide, it was five units wide in all the proportional fonts for the device.

    I don’t know if the Executive or the Justowriter had that same feature/limitation.
    The IBM Executive most definitely did not; available on the Web there is a brochure for the Executive which gives the specific unit sizes for characters for different typestyles. Just scroll to the link, under User Manuals by make, labelled IBM Model C Executive. (Incidentally, it is pages 4 and 5 that are missing. Except for the split space bar, the pages that cover the same material are present in the manual or brochure, similar in appearance, for the ordinary IBM Model C typewriter also on that site.)

    The Justowriter, on the other hand, because one can use a tape from a Recorder on a Reproducer with a different typestyle, would be expected to have that limitation, but from the specimens in that brochure, we can see this is not the case. I don't know how this was dealt with.

    Thanks for sharing! This catalog proves how new type styles that were designed specifically for width-limited systems work much better than adapting oldstyle serifs (such as Rogers’ Venetian) into the same system. Look at the evenness of Galvin or Documentary compared to Rogers, which is like cramming a gazelle into a straitjacket.
    This is true enough for the Justowriter, but when I look at the typestyles for the IBM Executive typewriter, their Charter typestyle seems to me to be the one which is the least obviously flawed as the result of the limited unit system. So the question may be a more complicated one.

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