Uppercase Lowercase

I enjoy thinking about how things evolved, especially words. Like for example the word uppercase comes from the original printing press. If you don’t know how a printing press works, I’ll explain quickly.

There were all these little pieces of metal that had letters cast into them. A person would put those letters on a wooden holder. Some of the pieces were blank to create space between words. Those were called spaces. (Thus the SPACE bar on your keyboard)

Notice the letters are mirrored

Then the typesetter would put space between the rows of letters. This was with bars of lead. (Thus the typography term “leading” which is the space between lines. Finally, the typesetter would rub ink on the metal using a roller and then run a piece of paper over the inked letters.

Because the letters are mirror-type, they would show up on the paper correctly. Boom. Printed materials. Repeat the last step as many times as you wanted to make pamphlets, books, manuscripts, and more.

The letters weren’t just kept in a giant pile. They were neatly organized in a suitcase that opened up like the one below.

Notice the two parts of the letters storage container

See in the picture. Guess where all the capital letters were. Yup, they were in the upper part. They were in the upper case. The small letters were in the bottom part. The lower case.

Now you know where UPPERCASE, lowercase, leading, and spacebar comes from. Have a nice day. 🙂

One reply on “Uppercase Lowercase”

but why are we still using upper case letters at all? they serve no purpose. i can figure out that a word is the first in a sentence by the fact that it comes at the beginning of a paragraph or after certain punctuation. why make children spent twice as much time in school learning these extra letters. interestingly, changing to all lower case would be pretty easy for society. although if we are doing this, we should really just switch to phonetic lettering which would end illiteracy (for anyone with a 2nd grade education) and help all children (and adults) who struggle with reading and spelling.

Whatya think?