New York based Photo-Lettering, Inc. (affectionately known as PLINC) pioneered photocomposition starting in 1936, and lasted until the desktop publishing era.
Their main business was setting headlines and advertising text from an amazing library of over 10,000 type designs, the largest library from a single foundry before or since. A great variety of optical effects could enhance the work, made possible by many different lenses. (Now every Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw user has the same power available to them, only now more open to abuse...) In their later years they also offered text setting with about 1,000 fonts from the library.
But for a lack of funds the company might have made the transition to digital. In the late 1980s they went out of business. A few of their original fonts were digitized in the 1990s and 2000s by ITC and Nick’s Fonts.
In April 2003, House Industries announced they had purchased the entire physical assets of Photo-Lettering, material amounting to 1500 cubic ft (42 cubic meters). House collaborated with Ed Benguiat himself to develop a set of fonts inspired by his work for Photo-Lettering and named in his honor: Ed Script, Ed Interlock, Ed Brush, Ed Roman, Ed Gothic and Bengbats (a dingbat font). The collection was released late 2004.
In April 2011 a project that had been talked about for years was finally launched: a new Photo-Lettering service where customers request individual line settings of lettering. These are delivered as PDF, not as font files. It offers features that standard font formats cannot, for example “layered” lettering of a design one might expect at the funfair can be customized in multiple colors.The “Lettersetter” engine, by Erik van Blokland and Tal Leming is at the core of the system. Alphabet development is led by by Ben Kiel and Ken Barber; the 1960s-style website is by Bondé Prang, Ben Kiel and Andy Cruz.