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A: Mitte, Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany

Rudolf Hell Develops Digiset 50T1, the first Digital Typesetter


In 1965 inventor Rudolf Hell of Kiel, Germany developed the Digiset 50T1, the first digital typesetter.

"With the introduction of Dr. Rudolf Hell’s typesetting machine, the Digiset 50T1 in 1965 (considered a so-called ‘third-generation phototypesetter’), letterforms were beamed by spots of light through a cathode ray tube (CRT) in the composing process. Thus, in German this technology is known as Lichtsatz (Licht means light, noun, — ironically the inventor’s name Hell also means light, the adjective). Although letters were still exposed photographically at the end of this composing process, the ‘matrices’ of the fonts had been replaced by a numerical description and letters were decomposed to single square dots (the term ‘bitmap’ is probably appropriate). The font data itself was stored on the machine and not on a separate device: Letterforms had completely lost their physical representation and were essentially ‘dematerialized.’ This process was known as ‘digital photocomposition.’ " (, accessed 05-2019).

The first digital typeface ever created was probably Digi-Grotesk S, developed in 1968 by the staff of Dr. Ing. Rudolf Hell GmBH. However, the face does not seem to have been marketed until later in the 1970s.

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