Hinman Collator

Hinman Collator

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Encyclopedia
The Hinman Collator, an early optical collator, was an opto-mechanical device for comparing pairs of documents for differences in the text. Documents that appeared similar were said to “collate”. The collator resulted in rapid advances in the study of literary
Literature
Literature is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources...

 works.

Invented by Charlton Hinman in the late 1940s, the device used lights and mirror
Mirror
A mirror is an object that reflects light or sound in a way that preserves much of its original quality prior to its contact with the mirror. Some mirrors also filter out some wavelengths, while preserving other wavelengths in the reflection...

s to superimpose images of the two documents so that differences in text alignment or wording stood out. This resulted in huge improvements in speed and efficiency compared to the traditional cross-referencing
Cross-reference
A cross-reference is an instance within a document which refers to related or synonymous information elsewhere, usually within the same work. To cross-reference or to cross-refer is to make such connections. The term "cross-reference" is often abbreviated as x-ref, xref, or, in computer science,...

 of texts by eye.

The idea built on earlier work such as Carl Pulfrich's
Carl Pulfrich
Carl Pulfrich was a German physicist, noted for advancements in optics made as a researcher for the Carl Zeiss company in Jena around 1880, and for documenting the Pulfrich effect, a psycho-optical phenomenon that can be used to create a type of 3-D visual effect.-External links:...

 blink comparator
Blink comparator
A blink comparator was a viewing apparatus used by astronomers to find differences between two photographs of the night sky shot using optical telescopes such as astrographs. It permitted rapidly switching from viewing one photograph to viewing the other, "blinking" back and forth between the two...

 used to help identify the former planet Pluto
Pluto
Pluto, formal designation 134340 Pluto, is the second-most-massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System and the tenth-most-massive body observed directly orbiting the Sun...

, and Hinman's work analysing aerial photographs during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

.

Hinman used his device to compare the many slightly different impressions of the First Folio
First Folio
Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies. is the 1623 published collection of William Shakespeare's plays. Modern scholars commonly refer to it as the First Folio....

 of William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

's works. The printing
Printing
Printing is a process for reproducing text and image, typically with ink on paper using a printing press. It is often carried out as a large-scale industrial process, and is an essential part of publishing and transaction printing....

 and bookbinding
Bookbinding
Bookbinding is the process of physically assembling a book from a number of folded or unfolded sheets of paper or other material. It usually involves attaching covers to the resulting text-block.-Origins of the book:...

 processes used in the time of Shakespeare often resulted in variations in the pages bound into the final books, and the collator enabled Hinman to describe the exact order in which the Folios had been composited and printed.

In the wake of Hinman's success, the device was purchased by a number of universities, libraries and other institutions (allegedly including the CIA). As more compact types of collator were developed in the 1960s, the last Hinman was built in 1978.

The device was developed further by Randall McLeod.

External links