104 Year Old Typography Icon Lost

Ed Rodthaler, 1905-2009

Ed Rondthaler, 1905-2009

Ed Rondthaler, author, inventor, philanthropist and typographic cornerstone to the 20th century advertising and graphic design industry, died last week at the age of 104.

Born in 1905 in Bethlehem, PA, and moved to Winston-Salem, NC, Rondthaler received a degree in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Drake University. He originally met his wife in the ninth grade and after marrying, they moved to New York in 1929 and Croton-On-Hudson in 1941.

Rondthaler co-invented the Rutherford Photo-Lettering machine, a photographic typesetting machine that was the technological link between hot metal and modern digital typography. It enabled designers, advertisers and printers to work with more creative hand-drawn letters whereas before they were limited to metal typefaces. Rondthaler ran the iconic NYC Photo-Lettering, Inc, founded in 1936, and authored Life with Letters, and more recently, Glimpses of 100 Years of Radical Change As Experienced By A Centenarian.

Today House Industries carries on his typographic legacy, and has posted a fantastic video of Ed commenting on the English language.


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