You gotta be pretty old to even remember the Linotype machine. It was invented about 1885 and revolutionized the printing trade, allowing an operator to do the work of several compositors setting type by hand. For a century-old ad in the LATimes offering Linotype instruction, look here. I was lucky enough to catch the end of the age of hot-metal printing. It was hot metal because it used a molten alloy of lead, tin, and antimony to cast slugs – the line o' type – that were used to print. It mostly replaced handset type, done by putting one piece of type after another in a composing stick, a little adjustable gadget, held in the left hand. When I started in the trade in 1962, handset was still in use for some big display work and top-quality ad work, where the compositor made aesthetic judgments about spacing between letters.
Benjamin Franklin could have walked into the Stilwell, Okla., Democrat-Journal, put on an apron, picked up a stick, and gone to work pegging type. The Linotype would have been exotic to him, but he would've loved it for its mechanical ingenuity, and the big press, powered by an electric motor, would have delighted him. We even had a little job press powered by a treadle, and on that Ben would've been right at home. Printing was a beautiful way to earn your daily bread back when it was a skilled trade instead of an office occupation. I wish I could do it all over; it was a very well paid, respected trade, and you could do it anywhere that printing was done.