Fonts, Fonts, Everywhere!

We see typography everywhere; in ads, on television, and especially on computers. When we use something so frequently, why don’t we take the time to find out where it all came from?

Fonts were first developed by Johann Gutenberg.  He invented his movable printing press to speed the writing process of books, which were all written by hand at the time. He developed his gothic black-letter style in order to make the books he printed look as though they were hand written.  The printing style grew with the development of printing shops.  Different kinds of typefaces also developed including roman and italic versions.

Nowadays, there are over 70 types of fonts that PC owners and graphic design artists alike to choose and use.  Each type of font has its own history. Here are a few to take a look at:

    Helvetica– Developed in 1957, this type of font was created by Max Miedinger with the help of Eduard Hoffman.  It was made to compete with the old Akzidenz-Grotesk font, which had been very successful. Helvetica was originally named Neue Haas Grotesk . When it was adopted by the Mergenthaler Linotype Company, the style was revised. The style got its newest name in 1960, which came from the latin name for Switzerland.  The font is often used for subway signs,and commercial logos.

    Trajan– This font was developed in 1989 by Carol Twombly.  It is based on roman square capital letters, which is why none of the letters are printed in lowercase.  Before Twombly’s translation of the script was developed, there had been many different versions including Emil Rudolf Weiss’ “Weiss” in 1926, and the formerly known “Optima,” developed by Hermann Zapf in 1955.  Twombly’s version is often seen on book covers, and movie posters. It is the official font of Columbia University, University of Kansas and SUNY Albany among many other schools.

    Times New Roman– One of the most known fonts in history, Times New Roman was developed in 1931 for use by the British newspaper, The Times.  It came about after the newspaper was ridiculed by Stanley Morison, having stated that it was deficiently printed. He supervised the development of the new font, while it was created by Victor Lardent.  The newspaper had been using the Times Old Roman monotype; therefore the new type was adequately named. The font has been the influence of the development of many other fonts in the digital type age, including Georgia.

    Broadway- This font dates back to 1927.  Designed by Morris Fuller for the American Type Founders, the original font had a long run as a capital only type until its use came to a halt in 1954. After being rediscovered some years later, the type has been developed and is commonly used in the digital type age.

    Gotham– Designed in 2000, the gotham font was created by Tobias Frere-Jones. The style was originally used by GQ Magazine, which wanted a more masculine and architectural type of font. The type came about when Frere-Jones was walking through the streets of Manhattan equipped with a camera. He viewed and captured pictures of the lettering on buildings dating back to the beginning of the 20th century. The lettering was used in President Obama’s 2008 electoral campaign. It is also seen on televisions shows, most notably Saturday Night Live. The font will be seen internationally as it is the official font for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Chicago.

    Antiquasi– One of the newest fonts used in the digital age, the type was developed in 2008. Created by Yuri Gordon, the font debuted on myfont.com in 2009. Gordon is a cofounder and senior designer of Letterhead Studio in Moscow, Russia. He has developed well over 100 new fonts in addition to Antquasi including 21 Cent,  FaRer, and  Costa Dorada. Many of his creations can be found at http://new.myfonts.com

Fonts have been developing for over 90 years and will continue to be developed. Even with the expansion of the digital type age, some of the these fonts have overlapped and continued on to be the most commonly used type of any age. Some of them just get better with age, while others take time to grow, either way, there will be lettering as long as the is a desire to type.

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