From Paul Collins's article "Buzzkill" in the September 2008 Believer:
Read more about Edward Rondthaler in his NYT obit:
“I have a packet that I’ll be giving to presidential candidates when they come through Iowa for the campaign,” she says before handing me a plain blue folder:
LOOKING FOR A FAIL-SAFE
EDUCATIONAL ISSUE FOR
THE 2008 CAMPAIGN?
SIMPLY SIMPLIFY SPELLING.
Inside are hand-annotated photocopies and an Ed Rondthaler on Spelling Reform DVD. Rondthaler, at 101 years old, is the last living link to spelling reform’s Edwardian heyday. The DVD consists of the centenarian’s vaudeville routine on spelling, followed by Rondthaler accosting an expressionless young woman in a library to explain his reforms. Rondthaler whips out a list of hundreds of nonphonetic letter combinations and begins reading them, all of them, to his unfortunate hostage. I imagine some sleepless McCain aide watching this on a laptop in Cedar Rapids, staring out his Travelodge window and wondering, When did my life go so horribly wrong?
Mr. Rondthaler first became known more than 70 years ago for his seminal work in photographic typesetting. In the mid-1930s, he and a colleague, Harold Horman, perfected a phototypesetting device that helped streamline the traditional art of setting type. Known as the Rutherford photo-lettering machine, it was one of the first such devices in wide commercial use.
Armed with their new machine, the two men founded Photo-Lettering Inc., a highly respected New York typographic house whose clients included many of the country’s best-known magazines and advertising agencies.
But over time, Mr. Rondthaler came to feel his beloved letters were traducing him with their unruly behavior on the printed page. So he took up the standard for spelling reform. For decades afterward, he championed SoundSpel, a simplified English spelling system he had refined from an earlier model.
“Foenetic speling wil maek reeding and rieting neerly automatic for evrybody,” Mr. Rondthaler wrote in SoundSpel, in a passage quoted by The New York Times in a 1977 profile.