Monotype Keyboard (from ECP)
Mono­type Key­board (from ECP)

Enter­ing the text is the first step in the process and the com­pressed air-dri­ven key­board punched holes in a paper tape.  While the out­put was on a par with mod­ern com­put­er type­set­ting, the key­board relied on mechan­i­cal help to help with spac­ing, jus­ti­fi­ca­tion and line length.

Each key­board need­ed some essen­tial parts to work –

  • Key­but­ton Banks: these are the rows and columns of but­tons which could be changed to accom­mo­date non-Latin char­ac­ters (if set­ting Greek, for example)
  • Key­bar Frames: these trans­late the spe­cif­ic key depres­sion to a punched hole in the tape.  The punched holes select a par­tic­u­lar mould (or matrix) and their posi­tion is deter­mined by width of the char­ac­ter.  If an espe­cial­ly wide ‘W’ was used then that would have to be in a dif­fer­ent posi­tion in the matrix to a nar­row­er or con­densed ‘W’ and so a dif­fer­ent pat­tern of holes was need­ed in the tape.  Rather than have each W in a dif­fer­ent posi­tion on the key­board, the key­bar frames did this trans­la­tion work
  • Stop­bars: this defines the width of each char­ac­ter so that the jus­ti­fy­ing scale can be driven
  • Jus­ti­fy­ing Scale: this Heath-Robin­son-esque device was designed to assist the key­board oper­a­tor in decid­ing when to end each line.  As each key was pressed, the stop­bar helped move a small nee­dle up or down a cylin­der vis­i­ble to the oper­a­tor depend­ing on the width of that char­ac­ter.  At the same time, each keystoke moved the drum around by one posi­tion.  The mark­ings on the drum would indi­cate how much space was left in that line and allowed the oper­a­tor to either con­tin­ue (and have very tight­ly-spaced words), or break to anoth­er line (per­haps leav­ing very wide spac­ing between words)

Standard Keyboard

A sin­gle, stan­dard key­board to pro­duce the punched paper tape.


Work­ing Area6′3″ x 6′
Air Pres­sure15 lbs/sq. in
Air Con­sump­tion1.15 cu. ft/min
Stan­dard Mea­sure (the width to which text could be set, line length)4¼pt. to 14pt up to 60ems pica

Duplex Keyboard

Two side-by-side key­boards with two per­fo­ra­tors.  They could be switched togeth­er or worked sep­a­rate­ly.  Used where either a dupli­cate per­fo­rat­ed tape was need­ed of a sin­gle text; or where two texts had to be cre­at­ed sep­a­rate­ly (if, for exam­ple, work was in two colours)


Work­ing Area8′ x 6′
Air Pres­sure15 lbs/sq. in
Air Con­sump­tion1.15 cu. ft/min for each paper tower


Mono­type sup­plied all man­ner of oth­er kit to help with some of the spe­cialised branch­es of com­po­si­tion.  They included –

  • Com­bined Spac­ing: an attach­ment to cast spaces dif­fer­ent­ly.  This might include cast­ing the space with the type itself, which allowed very tight spac­ing and a sav­ing of paper tape and cast­ing time
  • Copy Light: to illu­mi­nate the copy with either a bulb or a strip light
  • Dum­my Key­board: for trainees to ‘feel’ the key­board and lay­out with­out hav­ing to use the real thing
  • Copy­hold­ers: four dif­fer­ent types of attach­ment to hold the copy to be keyboarded
  • Tab­u­lat­ing: to help with set­ting tab­u­lat­ed mat­ter (like tables or timetables)


The key­board should be cleaned each week, but the dai­ly rou­tine rec­om­mend­ed that –

  • Open the pet cock at the back of the air cham­ber for a few minutes
  • Blow off any loose punch­ings with a blast of air
  • Wipe dust from the keyboard
  • Check screws and nuts for tightness
  • Test the align­ment of perforations