A Festival of Animation

1966 Selectric Composer Sample Overlaid with Times New Roman

On page 5 (by pdf numbering) of this 1967 IBM paper, The IBM Selectric Composer - Philosophy of Composer Design, there is a genuine print sample from an IBM Selectric Composer. That animated overlay to the left was made using that print sample and a recreation in Times New Roman done with WordPerfect 10 (WordPerfect handles this sort of right-justified typesetting much more competently than Word). JASC's "Animation Shop 3" was used to animate the transition from the original in blue to the recreation in red. Full justification warps true font comparison, but the end result is kind of amusing and served to motivate me enough to go through the tedious effort of creating the following animated GIF's of all the memos, including two CBS had but didn't use for its original report. There is also aother special animated overlay at the end from a different 1973 document.

The Composer, regardless of its brochure claiming documents being "so simple to prepare," is a very unlikely device to have been used for creating things like memos,  but as I mentioned on the main page, in 1972 IBM came out with the much more mainstream word processor called the "MC/ET" ("Mag Card/Executive") and that also utilized 9-unit proportional spacing like that of the Composer, as well as automatic centering and other nice stuff that you might expect from a system 6 years newer than the original Composer the print sample came from.

Creating the animations
My process for recreating the memos began with getting the best copies of them available, which seemed to be on Mary Mapes's site here, as an addendum to her book, Truth and Duty. These are all in PDF format so I then would start by marking & copying out a memo image for pasting into Irfanview. I used Irfanview for all of my image processing along with a somewhat less well known but still wickedly cool program appropriately called Cool Ruler. Cool Ruler is a virtual ruler that's always in the foreground and easy to switch from vertical to horizontal orientation, along with having a few other very useful tricks. I would use Irfanview to rotate the usually crooked memo images using Cool Ruler as a guide to level out the lines, and Cool Ruler also came in very handy later on when resizing the recreations for best fit with the originals. I used WordPerfect 10 for all of my recreations since, well, Word sucks and I don't use it unless I really have to. Plus WordPerfect does this sort of  page recreation so much more gracefully than Word. In case anyone thinks that the results would be different using Word instead, no. Times New Roman is a system font and as long as you have the fomatting the way you want it, the output will be the same (and I did do a check with a Word recreation on one of the longer memos to be sure.) I printed out my recreations on an old but trusty HP LaserJet 4L and then scanned them in via an also old and trusty-enough Visioneer PaperPort OneTouch. When doing the final resizing and cropping for best fit, I used line spacing as the primary guide for resizing and I aligned things from the left side only -- if Word or such was used to create the memos, there should be an overall fit, no matter the distortion from any supposed multiple recopying or faxing; however, if some ancient system was used, even if it was using some sort of Times typeface, then there would likely be discrepencies here and there in line lengths and in the relative positions of words and individual characters. The very last thing I used Irfanview for was to color the original memo blue and the recreation red, which I did by simply cranking up the desired color via  the "Enhance Colors" option.. The final stage involved copying the final results from Irfanview as frames in  JASC's "Animation Shop 3". The blue original was the start frame and the red recreation the end frame, with each set to a .9 second frame rate, and with a .5 second dissolve effect inserted in between. And if I didn't like the final result, I would just start all over.

Whether all this effort was worth it, well.... You be the judge.

February 2, 1972 Memo

The above memo is one of the two that CBS didn't use. This is the memo that could not have been forged because the info for the "flight certifications" bit was not available to any would be forger prior to CBS obtaining the memos. Still, the recreation is nearly exact, although this would be the expected result for such a short and simple document using a Times or Roman style font.

May 4, 1972 Memo

Hmmm, not so good this time. While the memo is obviously degraded, that wouldn't explain that huge difference between it and the recreation, especially in how it's so much wider than the Times New  Roman recreation. Actually, I'm wondering now if this this memo and at least some of the others were printed from a  microfiche/film archive -- its deteriorated appearance looks very much like that shown in many of of Bush's official records, most if not all of which came from microfiche/film.

May 19, 1972 Memo

This also doesn't recreate that well with Times New Roman despite being a relatively simple document. Note especially how the words drift out of alignment in the 2nd paragraph relative to the words in the lines above and below -- some typographers consider such relative positioning a fingerprint of sorts. If you're not too sure what this means, look at the position of "a flight status" on the 2nd line of paragraph two relative to "have the time" in the line below it: on the original -- the two phrases are offset by about a character. But then look how they look in the Times New Roman recreation -- the two phrases are almost perfectly lined up. A small difference but certainly not a trivial one -- it indicates that the original was not done on a modern system.

August 1, 1972 Memo

And this really doesn't recreate well with Times New Roman, and the relative misalignments are even more pronounced, especially in regards to line endings -- note for example the position of "perform" relative to "ordered" in the first paragraph of the original memo versus their positions in the Times New Roman recreation. Again this is not at all a trivial issue and it yet again points to the memos being originally created on something other than a modern system.

June 24, 1973 Memo

This is the other memo that CBS had but didn't use in its report. More of the same -- gee, so you think this is why only the next  memo, the CYA one,  got the animation treatment by Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs?

August 18, 1973 Memo

The (in)famous CYA memo that really drove the forgery charges. Besides the very short February 2nd, 1972 memo the CBS didn't use, this is the only memo that recreates at all well in Times New Roman. But note that this is the shortest and simplest memos after that February 2nd memo, hence being the next easiest one to recreate in a Times Roman/New Roman font if the original had been created in any Times or Roman style font. Also that "backdate" comment is supported by the official records -- it refers to the rating report dated May 2nd, 1973. Bush's two prior rating reports were signed off by Killian & Harris, with an addtional endorsement by the then base commander Bobby Hodges, on May 26 and/or May 27 of 1971 and 1972. Those dates were not arbitrary -- they were based on Bush's enlistment date of May 27, 1968, making his annual reporting period for service and training May 27 - May 26. Which in turn makes the May 2nd date for the 1973 rating report utterly anomalous, hence very much supporting that it was indeed backdated. Not exactly obvious stuff for any would-be forger to have figured out, nevermind use confidently in a supposedly forged document....

August 1973 Excerpt from a Draft Press Release Regarding the Redactron Redactor Word Processor Overlaid with Arial Bold

This excerpt, courtesy of the kind folks at the Charles Babbage Institute, is from a 1973 draft press release (and it was a draft, replete with typos and  proofreader markings) for the Redactron Redactor, a very popular early 70's word processor, regarding its use for preparing text for typesetting The font used in the draft resembles Arial Bold, which is what I used for the recreation, along with 1.5 line spacing. This is despite Arial not actually existing until about 1982; however, Arial is a rip-off of an earlier font called Helvetica, and so the font used in the draft is likely another Helvetica knock-off. Despite all these degrees of separation, the animated overlay doesn't come off all that badly, does it?


If you read this far and still think the memos could have been forged, you're an idiot.