Optical letter spacing

Inasmuch as “Optical letter spacing for new printing systems” by David Kindersley (London: The Wynkyn de Worde Society, 1976, 2nd revised edition) was described as a significant book by the website from where I bought it, I was disappointed that, for all its significance, it reports only inconclusive, intermediate results of experiments on determining optical letter spacing. I was surprised, therefore, to see “but a method of proportionate letter-spacing by computer has been explained by David Kindersley” in “Methods of Book Design” (3rd Edition, Yale University Press, 1983) by Hugh Williamson. Maybe there’s something in it that others can see but I can’t.

Towards the end, it says “I would like to say that there has never been a moment like today where perfect spacing was more possible.” That statement from the second edition has probably been true for every year since the first, 1966 edition. However, we have computing power today that was undreamed of in either 1966 or 1976, so you’d think that by now we would have moved from optical letter spacing being ‘more possible’ to it being practical everywhere.