October 13, 2013
Although now part of history—thanks to OpenType—one of the legacy PostScript font formats that has some mystique surrounding it is Type 42, mainly because of the apparent significance of that number in a particular series of books. I wrote the following on page 379 of my latest book as a description: Type 42 fonts are actually TrueType fonts with a PostScript wrapper so that they can reside within PostScript printers, and act much like PostScript fonts. A TrueType rasterizer must be present on the PostScript device in order to use Type 42 fonts.
The full specification is still available.
Due to the nature of the three books I have written, Type 42 is mentioned, and with each subsequent book, more details about its history, in terms of selecting the number 42, are able to be revealed to the reader. This article chronicles the coverage of Type 42 in these three books, and while there is clearly some humor intended, there is also value in knowing the true history of this font format. What appears in this article are footnotes from these books, shown in their entirety, preserving their format (and any typos).
February 11, 2013
As you may have heard, the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum has been asked to vacate its current site, and so is seeking for donations to help pay for the move and purchasing a new facility. The museum is located in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, and houses the world’s largest collection of wood type, estimated to be over 1.5 million pieces. The building that bears its name is the place where the long extinct Hamilton Wood Type company began producing type in 1880 and within 20 years became the largest provider in the United States.
October 12, 2012
Earlier this year, Adobe sponsored a series of short videos by the Type Directors Club (TDC). Each video in the series, appropriately named Type Legends, features an interview with a legendary type designer. Thus far, four videos have been released. As a sponsor of the videos, supporter of TDC, and a team of folks passionate about type we were thrilled to see these videos come to life and wanted to share the video links with all our Typblography followers.
August 14, 2012
Over at Daring Fireball yesterday, John Gruber waxed rhapsodic about his lifelong relationship with pixels, and their marginalization in the new MacBook Pro Retina Display. He then talked about fonts in that context:
Regarding font choices, you not only need not choose a font optimized for rendering on screen, but should not. Fonts optimized for screen rendering look cheap on the retina MacBook Pro — sometimes downright cheesy — in the same way they do when printed in a glossy magazine. […] Great fonts, intricately designed for high-resolution output, aren’t just allowed, they are necessary for a design that truly sings on this display.
John is talking about the long game of type design that Adobe has been practicing and advocating for over 25 years — especially in the last two or three years as screen fonts (a.k.a. web fonts) have taken a front seat in designer workflows and font foundry business planning. While there’s nothing wrong with finding the perfect solution to a contemporary problem — as many foundries have sought to do with highly screen-optimized fonts — it’s an endeavor that takes a lot of time and resources, always with the looming threat that those benefits will be fleeting. At Adobe, we’ve always been very comfortable relying on the inherent value of type designed to work well in print and high-resolution environments. No doubt that is a conservative choice, but keep in mind that Adobe Type has always been a product for digital workflows. One of the first Adobe Originals, Adobe Garamond, was designed in consideration, not defiance, of the 300 dpi laser printers of its time. Doing so did not make it incongruous with the past or the future.
I’m looking forward to the day when this bifurcation, “fonts” and “web fonts,” disappears and we can get back to simply practicing good typography with good typefaces, and worrying less about the medium and the technology. Although it seems like we’ve been anticipating high resolution screens for at least fifteen years, perhaps we are, finally, almost there.
March 2, 2012
Today marks Robert Slimbach’s 25th anniversary with Adobe. Robert joined Adobe’s Type staff on March 2nd, 1987, as Adobe’s nascent program for original typeface design took shape under the guidance of Sumner Stone. Since then, Robert has accumulated awards and accolades for his work, including the Prix Charles Peignot in 1991, and numerous Type Directors Club awards. In 2006, Robert became Adobe’s first Principal Designer — a title he probably earned in spirit long before that.
February 24, 2012
On Tuesday, Adobe’s Typekit office hosted the west coast premiere of Linotype: The Film with two back-to-back screenings. A few of us on the Adobe Type team were there and share our thoughts about it:
Linotype historian Frank Romano showing original font drawings for the Linotype.
David Lemon: I really liked Frank Romano’s historical perspective. I’d come across a lot of that material before, but had never learned what inspired Ottmar Mergenthaler to create the first Linotype machine. And as a Type person, I appreciated Nadine Chahine’s point that the machine’s great commercial success supported the development of the world’s preeminent font library – which has long since outlived the machine.
Frank Grießhammer: What I liked is that really all the aspects of the machine were illuminated, from the history of its creation, to the pinnacle of its success, to its replacement by other technologies. Even the Linotype’s value in terms of scrap metal was mentioned, and the difficulties (in sheer personal investment and energy) that are to be taken to keep a Linotype running today. All those facts were embellished with a wealth of ancedotes, e.g. the fascinating story of “etaoin shrdlu.” A great movie, which I can easily see being interesting to festival-goers that are not necessarily 100% type nerds.
Christopher Slye: Honestly, I was grinning for half the film. It’s ambitious enough to make the case that the Linotype was just about the most important invention for human knowledge following movable type itself… but it also finds that the people who have spent their careers operating or otherwise depending on them are smart, proud and funny. It helps that it’s all nicely filmed and briskly paced. A few familiar faces put it all in context for the type enthusiasts and professionals, but it turns out the Linotype — quirky, complex and slightly dangerous — has more universal appeal than expected.