Over on Hackaday, a good history of Hershey fonts, a still-surviving vector font format designed for use in the 1960s for optical cathode ray printers, printing characters onto microfilm at a time when computer displays were still a novelty (now they are useful for CNC milling, laser etching, etc.).
Notes about fonts
Type-design is not exclusively a matter of aesthetics but, to a large extent, of understanding the technical conditions in which the letter-forms are built up; and a typeface is successful when it is properly at the service of a strict conformity with the material and with progressive techniques.
Every script contains the spirit of its age.
The good type designer knows that, for a new font to be successful, it has to be so good that only very few recognize its novelty.
Speaking of newfangled OpenType variable fonts, this Decovar “modular parametric control display font” is a nice example: a typeface that has an absurd set of elements that you can control programmatically, essentially creating a “skeleton” typeface with a large spectrum of embellishments (the terminals, the strokes, the contours are all adjustable, but still looks good by blending together smoothly).
Typography might be undergoing a revolution in the next few years!
Not only is every letter an object, but every space between every letter is also an object. Every space between words, every space between lines—every bit of white space is an object. When typesetting, a printer has to think about negative space as something tangible.
A nice essay from The Atlantic on the development of the humble metal (or wood) block known as the en, the invisible assistant of legibility in classic printed text.
DNA Sans, a typeface / character set of self-assembled DNA strands that have been shaped into pixel-like blocks. I know where I’m stashing my next steganographically-hidden secret message! (Or maybe this could be used as graffiti for the Fantastic Voyage crew?)
(Via Nature – article is here for those with journal access)
I’m getting far too many chuckles out of this page for the Fake Unicode Consortium, which pairs up obscure Unicode glyphs with better names. Depicted here:
Unicode character U+2231: ‘NOW FLIP SNAKE TO COOK OTHER SIDE’
(Via O’Reilly Radar)
A fan-made port of the pixel font built into the adventure game classics The Secret of Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge. As a bonus, a separate version is available that is properly kerned and hinted. (double bonus: opening the .ttf file in Font Book reveals that the demonstration string for the font reads “You fight like a dairy farmer!”)
A post combining Lucasfilm Games and typography? Immediate reblog!
Oh my, yes. The Firefox team has an experimental specification for making use of the advanced features of OpenType and AAT, possibly through the CSS @font-variant property. This could get hairy rather quickly and I have to imagine it’d be tricky to write out the full description by hand, but the typographical goodness would be hard to pass up. Be sure to check out the hack.mozilla.org page about this to see some nice preview images.
Steam is gathering behind the open font / redistributable typeface movement, which will hopefully usher in some better typography options on the web. Arguments abound as to whether letting designers use whatever font they want on the web is a good thing, and the situation’s been moving at a snails pace for years due to the reluctance of both the font foundries and the browser makers, so it’s good to see actual, workable options on the horizon. Here are a handful of recent projects, all of which seek to ameliorate the licensing issues inherent in the use of embedded fonts: