ATF High-Speed
Photographic Typesetter
Model B

Cover Tape

This text was set by the light beam of a 40-watt lamp; a photographic lens; and a transparent disc that weighs less than two ounces, changes in less than 10 seconds, carries 168 different type images, packs the composing power of a double-letter font of hot metal mats, and costs less than an empty hot metal mat magazine.

It was set on a unit that weighs under 125 pounds; takes up less floor space than the average office desk; runs on an ordinary electric light circuit; and uses less power than a portal TV.

It was set automatically, under coded tape control. The unit that cut the tape simultaneously typed a compositor’s proof that enabled the Comp to catch most errors at once, and to correct all visible errors before photosetting.

It was set on a low-cost sensitized paper and could just as readily have been set directly on film. It was developed and ready for paste-up in less time than it takes to proof and correct the average hot metal galley.

It was set, automatically justified and leaded, at a production rate that can average ten 11-pica lines of 8½ point Century Schoolbook a minute.

It was set without a pound of pressure and without an ounce of metal.

It was set without leads, sugs, galleys, chases, quoins, furniture, stones, saws, proof presses or furnaces.

It was set on the fast new ATF Model B Typesetter—the logical, field-proven way to set professional-grade text for any process than prints from plates.

Typesetter units Sketch of person using typesetter
  1. Step 1

    1 Manuscript is marked for type styles and sizes, line widths, leading, necessary instructions of any kind.

  2. Step 2

    2 After setting the measures, the operator types until a panel light warns that the justification zone has been reached. A switch justifies the line and returns the keyboard carriage.

  3. Step 3

    3 Errors caught at once are immediately corrected by deleting wrong codes, or by deleting the whole line.

  4. Step 4

    4 The control tape and the compositor’s proof. Errors noted after proof-reading are easily corrected before the composition is photoset.

  5. Step 5

    5 After inserting the control tape into the properly set-up photographic unit, the operator can return to the keyboard.

  6. Step 6

    6 Sharp, smear-proof type images are produced on inexpensive photographic paper, or on film. Light-proof film/paper receivers can be removed at any time for development.

  7. Step 7

    7 On paper the developed image is high-contrast black-on-white. Film can be processed either as a positive or as a negative. Emulsion-to-emulsion contact with the plate can always be maintained.

  8. Step 8

    8 Wether the end-product is on paper for immediate paste-up, or on film for positive or negative plate-making, the photographic image is always sharp, clear and uniform.

Model B Typesetter Keyboard Unit

This is the production control center of the Model B Typesetter. It punches the coded tape that carries all control data for high-speed automated typesetting. It simultaneously types a compositor’s proof for fast detection and correction of errors, before photosetting.

The control tape captures all the labor and skill of composition. Tapes can be filed, re-run, edited, revised, added to, merged, even mailed to operated remote Typesetter photographic units.

Keyboard speed, and the typographic quality of Typesetter composition, are limited only the compositor’s skill. The Keyboard is mechanically faster than any operator. In semi-automatic operation the within-line rate of speed is approximately 600 character and function codes per minute.

Keyboard unit

Model B Typesetter Photographic Unit

This is the quality control center of the Model B Typesetter. Under automatic coded tape control it produces flawless reproductions of original type desings: smear-proof, uniform in color, with no broken or pitted characters, no ragged edges or serifs, no chance of plugging or embossment. The developed image on photographic paper or film is ideal for all reproduction processes that use photomechanical plates.

Maximum image quality is insured by a fixed, pre-focused optical system; by built-in voltage regulation for constant density of light; and by a grey-scale control disc for uniform development.

Within-line photoraphic speed of the Model B approximates 330 codes per minute. In production figures this can produce ten 11-pica lines of 8½ point Century Schoolbook straight matter.

Photographic unit

More versatile than ever

New width control circuits

Extend the Typesetter’s ability to mix type styles and sizes.

Changeable Width Control Boards plug into permanent receptacles in the keyboard and photo unit desks. New width control circuitry makes it practical to mix two styles and/or sizes of type on one disc. Mixtures must have approximately the same set-width for automatic composing. For semi-automatic composing, any mixture of available styles or sizes is feasible. New three-position dials covern selection or mixture of the composition. The new width circuits also extend the Typesetter’s inherent versatility in setting sorts and “pi” characters from the keyboard—and at normal keyboarding speed. Key caps of transparent plastic can be supplied with special arrangements for proper keyboard identification. There is no limitation on furnishing special discs and control boards for special applications.

Width control
Width Control Receptacles accept Width Control Boards wired to specific type styles. Nine Width Control Boards can be stored in handy desk compartments.
Desk with photographic unit on top
Attractive, specially designed metal desks are furnished with both the Keyboard and Photographic Units. Each desk houses essential operating equipment and accessories.

Keyboard Layouts and Controls

Essential keyboarding functions are controlled by nine finger-tip switches on the keyboard panel:

The Punch On switch controls the operation of the code punch mechanism. When locked int the down position an individual code is punched for every character or function. The Tape Feed switch runs tape throught the punch without coding. Standard practice is to begin and end every tape with blank sections that can be written for identification or production instructions. The Code Delete switch is used to cancel any incorrect codes in the tape. The Start Read switch is used in cutting duplicate tapes semi-automatically, or for corrections and added material. The Non Justify switch insures uniform word spacing for both non-justified and justified composition. When in the down position it permits only non-justified composition. The Stop Read switch is used in conjunction with the Start Read switch. The Stop Code switch enters a code to halt the automatic operation of the Photographic Unit for monitor attention. The Line Delete switch is used to cancel incorrect lines or portions of lines. It is usually the simplest and fastest method in-process correction. The J-Car Return switch is used to simultaneously record justification, line space, and carriage return codes for automatic operation of the Photographic Unit. It also line spaces and mechanically returns the carriage of the Keyboard Unit. The Indicating Light in the center of the panel signals when justification of a line is possible. Automatic justification is on a word space basis. Plus and minus letter spacing is also possible in fixed increments.

Illustrated below is Standard Keyboard Layout No. 8 and control switches.

Keyboard closeup
Keyboard layout number 18
Standard Keyboard Layout No. 18: Straight Matter with Fractions and Aligning Leaders at Base Line.
Keyboard layout number 6
Standard Keyboard Layout No. 6: Standard Typewriter, IBM, CCC.
Non-standard keyboard layout
Above is a non-standard Keyboard Layout. it was custom-made for a Technical Manual application. It is just a sample of the many special arrangements possible.

Faster than ever:

New High-Speed Type Discs

Establish new standards for text and tabular production

By successfully combining the efficiency of coded-tape control with the economy of the low-cost photo type disc, ATF is able to bring all the benefits of high-speed phototypesetting within the reach of the majority.

Weighing under two ounces, a single Model B type disc packs the composing power of a double-letter font of hot metal matrices or two cold type reproducing machines. A disc contains 168 different type characters in standard or custom arrangements.

Standard type discs contain two fonts—with a complete complement of caps, lowercase, figures, and standard sorts in one type size from 5 to 14 points. A disc usually consists of a roman or sans serif font and a companion font of either bold or italic. Companion fonts appear in red on the proof typescript.

Special type discs can carry virtually any 168 characters in mixed fonts—with special symbols, accents, logotypes, ligatures or marks. There is practically no limitation on furnitshing a custom-tailored disc for a special need.

Adjusting to the photographic unit to meet the full range of styles and sizes available on type discs is a simple three-step procedure: inserting the right set-width gear for the selected point size; inserting the new disc; and dialing the proper width setting.

Leading control

Automatic Variable Leading

Exact between-line spacing is ensured by high-precision feeding of the photographic paper or film. Primary line spacing can be adjusted from 1 to 16 points in half-points. For example, you can set 8 on 9 pt.–9 on 9½ pt.–10 on 12 pt.

Additional line spacing, variable by half-points to the full primary spacing of 16 points, can be obtained with the Automatic Variable Leading control pictured above. As directed by the coded tape, this control automatically inserts the specified amount of additional spacing, then automatically returns to the primary setting. Automati Variable Leading is an invaluable asset in setting chapter heads, sub-heads, etc.

Other Quality Controls

Built-in Voltage Regulator
Automatically regulates fluctuations in the line-voltage and insures uniform intensity of light during photosetting. A calibrated dial can be set for optimum intensity for the nature of the composition.
Grey-Scale Control Disc
An invaluable quality control device used with every take of copy to insure uniform image development.
Auxiliary Shutter
An extra safeguard against light streaks during high-speed exposure.

Several Examples of Varied Composition

Here are some graphic examples of varied composition formats that can be handled with greater ease by the ATF Typesetter than by conventional typesetting methods. Codes in the tape carry all the necessary control instructions for automatic operation of the photographic unit.

  • Centered Heading
    Justified Straight Matter

    Typesetter Development

    The initial ATF Typesetter was introduced in 1958 after fifteen years of intensive research and field testing. It was designed to be just what it has proven to be—the first and only direct photographic text typesetter within the economic reach of the majority of potential users.

  • Justified and Centered Matter

    Today, field-proven Typesetters are established in world-wide installations—producing high quality type composition for every modern printing process and for virtually every application of the print word.

  • Left Run-Around
    Right Run-Around

    The Model B Typesetter will consolidate and extend the technical break-through spearheaded by the original model. The new Typesetter is faster, more versatile, and contains many refinements developed and tested during the intervening years. The benefits of phototypesetting are self-evident to the offset or gravure printer. Either it frees him from an expensive and illogical dependence on metal type, or provides him with typesetting superior in quality and design to the product of cold-typewriters.

  • Tabular Centering
    Emmett F. Rahn Gordon T. Musert Willard D. Adsom Bonsal F. Druell
    121 Alameda Drive
    Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
    470 Sunnyside Blvd.
    Savanah 7, Georgia
    707 Sunset Avenue
    Yakima 11, Washington
    1105 Trinity Circle
    Boston 8, Massachusetts
  • Tabular Centering
    Part Number Size Lots Net Price List Price
    435621 22 100 8.75 14.50
    435632  9 100 7.00 12.00
    435646 xx 100 7.85 12.50
  • Aligned Leaders
    In the Rocky Mountain States:
    A. E. Heinohn Printing Machinery and Supplies
    • Denver, Colo. 1443 Blake St. Cherry 4-2481
    • Albuquerque, N. M. 5231 Central Av., W. Chapel 3-9581
    • Phoenix, Ariz. 1828 W. Jefferson St. Alpine 2-3905
    • Salt Lake City, Utah 246 W. First South St. Elgin 9-7641
    • El Paso, Texas 416 N. Elpaso St. Keystone 3-1780

Here are a few of the Typesetter faces available

Matchless Clarity and Versatility

In direct photographic typesetting the image is produced by a light beam of constant intensity. This accounts for the matchless uniformity and sharpness of Typesetter composition. There is never any friction or impression involved, so there is never a chance of embossment. And because there are no ink or carbon pigments involved, there is no chance of plugged letters, smearing, or slurring, grey or uneven characters.

The Typesetter images is so sharp and clear that it can be enlarged immensely without loss of quality or density. This is a bonus benefit in setting headlines or display advertising matter.

Below is a lower case “a” as it appears on the photographic paper or film, and as it appears after great photographic enlargement, without retouching.


The ATF Typesetter has many applications in widely diversified fields.

The versatile Typesetter is the field-proven system of rapid, low-cost composition for:

  • Newspapers
  • Shoppers
  • Newsletters
  • Books
  • Pamphlets
  • Brochures
  • Yearbooks
  • Annual Reports
  • Business Forms
  • Legal Forms
  • Bulletins
  • Instrument Dials
  • Maps
  • Certificates
  • Dictionaries
  • Encyclopedias
  • Directories
  • Guides
  • Catalogs
  • Technical Manuals
  • Parts Lists
  • Price Lists
  • Schedules
  • House Organs
  • Magazines
  • Job Printing
  • Advertising
  • Check Imprinting
  • Circuit Printing
  • Flip Charts
  • Time Tables
  • Tariff Books
  • Statistical Tables
  • Scientific Texts
  • Music Lyrics
  • Product Plates
  • Rate Books
  • Address Labels
  • Overlays
  • Almanacs
  • Horoscopes
  • Racing Forms
  • Placards
  • Programs
  • Projection Slides
  • TV Slides
  • Displays
  • Templates

. . . and many applications yet unknown.

The range of applications increases daily with the realization that the era of setting type with a beam of light is here and now, and here to stay. This is the logical way to set text for any process that prints from photomechanically-prepared plates.

No matter how troublesome or unusual your composition problem may be, the versatile ATF Typesetter can cope with it.

Model B-SM
For high-speed production of newspaper straight matter—the Model B-SM

This model is specifically designed for high-speed composition of newspaper straight matter, where a wide range of type styles is not required. The model B-SM sets one family of type only. It contains all operating features of the standard Model B except for the new Width Control Circuitry.

Can this be done, practically and economically, on the ATF Typesetter?

This question is being asked daily in the many inquiries that come to ATF from all over the world. Rarely have we had to answer in the negative.

ATF Research is always working to keep the Typesetter ahead of the field. New features and improvements are under constant development, and new modifications are constantly made to adapt the Typesetter to special needs.

If you have a troublesome or unusual composition problem, investigate the versatile ATF Typesetter as a possible answer. Inquiries are always welcome. Call your local ATF Branch or Sales Office, or write to:

ATF Typesetter Information Department DB 200 Elmora Avenue, Elizabeth, N. J.

Q. A.

What are some of the basic economical and technical benefits of typesetting?

Economically, the biggest benefits are: low capital investment, and low operating maintenance costs. Phototypesetting doesn’t require expensive accessory equipment, such as high precision repro proof presses, saws, routers, miterers, metal furniture, impositng tables, turtles, metal furnaces, metal storage facilities, chases or galleys. Make-up is a simple scissors-and-paste operation. White space is free, and type discs last indefinitely. Lightweight paste-ups are easily stored in office file cabinets and are readily revised.

Technically, the benefits of phototypesetting include: unprecedented clarity, density, and uniformity. Anyone examining the product of phototypesetting—with the naked eye or under strong magnification—is immediately struck by the high reproduction quality of the image. The reason is obvious: basically, a photographic typesetter is a camera; it produces lens-sharp pictures of original type characters just as the designer drew them.

Is phototypesetting logical only for offset?
Phototypesetting is logical for any printing process or application that employes, or can employ, photomechanical plate preparation. This covers offset, gravure, thermography, silkscreen, photoengraving and specialized applications like TV slides, movie captions, et. It also includes the recent developments in photomechanical letterpress platemaking.
Is the Typesetter limited to setting straight text and tabular composition?
The Typesetter is primarily designed for high-speed production of text and tabular composition from 5 to 14 points in size, but the high quality of the image permits great enlargement without distortion and without loss of sharp line edge or density. Many Typesetter users set headlines and display advertising matter in 12 or 14 point and enlarge it in the process camera or in a standard photographic enlarger.
Is there any advantage in separating the Keyboard and Photographic units?
There are several advantages. It enables one Photographic Unit to handle the output of several Keyboard Units, if desired. It doesn’t limit the production speed of the Photographic Unit to the composing Speed of the Keyboard operator. It enables the operator to catch and correct the majority of typographical errors before photosetting. It makes possible the operating efficiency of automatic coded-tape control. And it enables the superintendent to schedule independent maintenance and production programs.
How much training time is required?

The amount of training needed will depend on the previous composition experience of the operator, and also on the application to which the Typesetter will be put. It is relatively simple to train anyone with prior experience in hot metal or cold type. More time will be required to train operators with no composition experience, or to train an operator who is expert in all phases of Typesetter composition.

ATF conducts one-week operating courses at Elizabeth, N. J., and invites each Typesetter purchaser to send his operator for training before delivery of the unit. There is no fee for the course, but operators must meet their own travel and living expenses. In addition, operators receive on-the-job training from the technician who installs the Typesetter.

Who are already using ATF Typesetters?
Trade typographers, commercial printers, daily and weekly newspapers, book and technical manual publishers, govermental agencies, universities, and private industries are now using ATF Typesetters.
What applications are being met?
Practically every application of the printed word. Typesetters are profitably producing composition for every major branch of the graphic arts, and have found application in the highly specialized fields of map-making, business forms, industrial wiring diagrams, magnetic check printing, etc. The wide range of Typesetter applications grows every day with the realization of the economical and technical benefits of phototypesetting.
What segment of the printing industry has been the quickest to realize the quality and profit potential in phototypesetting?
Trade typographers, perhaps the most type-knowledgeable segment of all. One of every four Typesetters purchased is being used for trade composition. Invariably, the plant that adds phototypesetting finds it breeds business. The plant offering phototypesetting as well as metal has a definite competitive edge and is obviously progressive.


  • Dimensions:
    • Keyboard Unit with Desk: 42-3/4 x 30 x 35-5/8 inches.
    • Photographic Unit with Desk: 42-3/4 x 30 x 43 inches.
  • Type Discs: Each disc contains 168 different type characters.
  • Type Sizes: 5 to 14 points.
  • Maximum Line Length: 7-3/8 inches.
  • Line Spacing (leading): 0 to 16 points in half-point increments.
  • Tabular Settings: Increments of 4 units
  • Available Widths of Film and Paper Rolls: 3-34—5-3/4—7-3/4 inches.
  • Available Lengths of Film and Paper Roles: 25 and 40 feet.
  • Specifications subject to change without notice.

Standard equipment

  • Choice of Standard Keyboard Layouts
  • Standard Keyboard Unit and Desk
  • Standard Photographic Unit and Desk
  • 1 Pair Width Control Boards
  • 3 Set-Width Gears (Change Gears)
  • 2 Film/Paper Magazines
  • 2 Film/Paper Receivers
  • 1 Tape Unwinder
  • 1 Grey Scale Control Disc
  • 1 Paper Roll Stand

Optional Equipment

  • Type Discs
  • Motorized Tape Winder
  • Exra Width Control Boards
  • Extra Set-Width Gears (Change Gears)
  • Extra Film/Paper Magazines and Receivers
  • Tape Splicing Kit
  • Transparent Plastic Key Caps
  • Non-Standard Arrangements or Accessories

Every word in this brochures was composed on the ATF Typesetter. Text is in 10 and 12 pt. Century Schoolbook with Italic. Headlines were set in 12 pt. and photographically enlarged.

Printed in U.S.A. on an ATF Chief Press. TS-106 10M563

ATF Branch and Sales Offices

Los Angeles 15, 1314 W. Ninth Street, Dunkirk 5-2173
San Francisco 2, 360 Golden Gate Avenue, Prospect 1-1255
District of Columbia
Washington 5, 1106 Vermont Ave., N. W., Tel: 462-4701
Hialeah, 80 East 9th Street, Tuxedo 8-0104
Atlanta 8, 728 Spring Street, N. W., Trinity 3-1663
Chicago 6, 519 W. Monroe Street, Franklin 2-1188
Fort Wayne, 418 East Berry Street, E-4917
Indianapolis, Park Building, 611 N. Park, Melrose 6-8780
Des Moines 9, 914 Grand Avenue, Atlantic 2-3347
Louisville 2, 660 South 5th Street
New Orleans, 606 Common Street, Jackson 5-2224
Baltimore 2, 305 Tower Building, Lexington 9-4868
Boston 10, 273-285 Congress Street, Liberry 2-8625
Detroit 26, 2338 Dime Building, Woodward 3-6650
Minneapolis 6, 2911 E. Franklin Ave., Federal 9-0926
Kansas City, Manufacturer’s Exchange Bldg., 210 W. 8th Street, Harrison 1-1663
St. Louis 3, 1931 Washington Avenue, Chestnut 1-2757
Omaha 2, 320 WOW Bldg., 14th & Farnam Sts., 345-8600
New York
Buffalo, 28 Church St., 1018 Prudential Bldg., TL 6-7455
New York 14, 200 Varick Street, Oregon 5-8910
Rochester 4, 77 Clinton Avenue North, Baker 5-6249
Akron 2, 163 West Exchange Street, Franklin 6-8187
Cincinnati 2, 20 E. 9th Street, Cherry 1-2037
Cleveland 14, 1530 E. 19th Street, Main 1-1787
Columbus 15, 81 E. State Street, Capital 1-1919
Toledo 4, 510 Manhattan Bldg., 518 Jefferson Ave., Cherry 6-7732
Portland 5, 1224 S. W. Salmon Street, Capitol 8-1022
Philadelphia 7, 207-09 N. Broat Street, Locust 7-0470
Pittsburgh 12, 422 East Ohio St., North Side, 322-4994
Rhode Island
Providence 3, 86 Weybosset St., Room 54, Jackson 1-9338
Chattannooga, 205-C James Bldg., Amherst 7-3343
Dallas 7, 2276 Vantage Street, Melrose 1-2690
Richmond, 6211-A West Broad St., Room 8, Atlantic 2-2636
Seattle 4, Polson Bldg., 71 Columbia Street, Main 2-0840
Milwaukee 2, 737 N. Van Buren St., Broadway 1-4164
Distributor in the Rocky Mountain States

A.E. Heinsohn Printing Machinery and Supplies

  • Albuquerque, New Mexico, 5231 Central Ave. W., Chapen 3-9581
  • Denver, Colorado, 1443 Blake Street, Cherry 4-2481
  • El Paso, Texas, 416 N. El Paso St., Keystone 3-1780
  • Phoenix, Arizona, 1828 W. Jefferson St., Alpine 2-3905
  • Salt Lake City, Utah, 246 W. First South St., Elgin 9-7641
Canadian Distributor

Sears Limited

  • Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, London, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver
American Type Founders 200 Elmora Avenue, Elizabeth, N.J.

About the project

This site is a reproduction of the brochure for the Typesetter Model B from the American Type Founders. The original brochure, published in 1963, showcases the benefits of using the Typesetter Model B with beautiful images of typesetting equipment and a vibrant colorful design.

American Type Founders was created in 1892 when 23 type foundries comprising 85% of the manufactured type in the United States merged into one business.1

In the 1950s and 1960s, ATF ventured into photocomposition by creating the Typesetter Models A and B. The Model B became the most popular of the two. The Model B comprised two units: a keyboard unit which allowed compositors to generate encoded long strips of encoded control tape which could then be fed into a photographic unit which produced the final product by reading the tape and projecting light through interchangeable discs with fonts on them.

As technology advanced, photocomposition and manual typesetting became obsolete and ATF was sold off to Kingsley Machines which later renamed to Kingsley/ATF and remaining ATF designs were sold to Kingsley Holding Corporation which went defunct in 1991.2,3

No known ownership or copyright of the original brochure exists and it is available on the Internet Archive (see following embed) under the Public Domain Mark 1.0 license.

Reproducing the original brochure as a web page has little practical use other than serving as an entertaining design exercise. Each page of the 16-page brochure was recreated in an effort to create an online equivalent for others to enjoy that goes beyond the standard layouts of many websites and stays as true as possible to the original design.

Several posters were also made based on the striking colors and design for those that want to enjoy a their own piece of typographical history.

See how the project was made »

  1. Wikipedia
  2. NYS Department of State Division of Corporations Entity Information
  3. Corporation Wiki


Decorate your walls with posters based on the beautiful designs from the original brochure—including high-quality graphics of the cover, typesetter units, and type disc. Plus, all the pages are available on two posters showcasing page spreads and the top colors used on each page.

Sizes and pricing available on the ordering page. Larger sizes look best. Due to the fine detail, images may appear blurry at smaller sizes.

Closeup of poster showing detail
Poster of brochure cover

Order poster »

Poster of typesetter units spread
Typesetter Units Order poster »
Poster of type disc
Type Disc Order poster »
Poster of all pages from brochure
Brochure Pages Order poster »
Poster of top colors used on each page
Top Colors Per Page Order poster »