Before laser-printers were even dreamt of, large companies had to use typesetters to render text if it were to look any good—but they were expensive and tightly controlled. Then, in the summer of 1979, engineers at Bell Labs changed all that.

Over their summer vacation, a team of researchers decided to reverse engineer the technology behind the Linotron 202—then one of the most advanced pieces of digital typesetting hardware available. In doing so they democratized typesetting, and revolutionized the way that digital texts were converted to hard copy.


This fascinating video describes how and why they did it. If that's not enough, you can also read a full report of how it was done here. [Computerphile]