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The first patents for related gizmos appeared about 50 years earlier.I am not a type historian, nor am I an antiquarian book collector, so the oldest printed book I own dates only to 1819. The practice in those days was hardly universal, though, and many contemporaneous anglophone volumes — John Baskerville’s 1763 Bible, for example — show the spacing that we now regard as the norm; that is, a single word space between sentences.Punctuation — whose shapes can’t be adapted — fares particularly badly.
In addition, a single word space simply lacks the visual impact to cue the reader that a sentence has ended.
The punctuation mark alone, in short, isn’t enough to punctuate the texture of the type flow. Each character can be designed with its familiar historical proportions and has its own unique width.
I’m going to try to put an end to the argument here. But the use of double spaces (or other exaggerated spacing) after a period is a typographic convention with roots that far predate the typewriter.
Origins Traditional wisdom on the subject asserts that using two word spaces after sentences is left over from the days of the typewriter. It’s a fact that people who first learned typing on a typewriter were indeed taught that you should always use two spaces after a sentence-ending period. The first commercially available typewriters — the only ones that could arguably have been influential enough to change typographic habits — didn’t appear until the 1860s.
In the early days of handset type, having the flexibility to exaggerate the spaces between sentences must have been a boon to quickly setting justified type.
And Aldus Manutius was famous as a thrifty, profit-conscious printer.
He developed what we now call italics as a way to jam more type onto the page to save money on paper.
I’m not prepared to aver that double spaces at the ends of sentences arose from crass commercial concerns, but I think it makes a quality rumor, and you can say you saw it here first.
We’re not used to seeing these white holes peppering the page, so the wider spaces look inappropriately large.
Interestingly, by the 1960s, electronic phototypesetting systems went as far as ignoring consecutive word spaces altogether when they appeared in text.