Specific Fonts: A Short History Lesson

Posted by Ben

Posted by Ben on B&K M Online

Knowing the history behind various typefaces and why they were originally used can be a graphic design education in and of itself. If you know why and how typefaces were originally used, choosing your fonts could become not just about current aesthetic sensibilities and preferences, but also about referencing the technological and typography past. So why were these fonts chosen by the Modern Museum of Art in New York?

  • At the beginning of the computer age, typefaces needed to be machine-readable, and in 1966, OCR-A was adopted as the standard.
  • For those of us who can’t imagine getting hints about what’s going on inside a computer or interacting with it directly, it might seem incredible that computers originally didn’t have monitors. But when monitors became standard, a typeface that actually looked readable on-screen was necessary. Hence New Alphabet, designed to avoid the traditional curves of the traditional alphabet.
  • Reinventing classic typeface designs is another way of producing modern fonts: ITC Galliard is a reinvention of a 16th-century French typeface designed by Robert Granjon.
  • HTF Didot, designed in 1991 by Jonathan Hoefler, was commissioned specifically for Harper’s Bazaar magazine as a throwback to the magazine’s style in the 1930s to 1950s. This font is another reinvention, based on typography by Parisian typographer Firmin Didot in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Of course, these are only four of the 23 fonts chosen by MoMA. For more fonts inspiration, check out Specialized Fonts for Design Inspiration, Part I and Part II.

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4 Comments

  1. Posted January 31, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    nice post - thank you very much. simon at pixmac

  2. olowe johnson abisoy
    Posted February 1, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    good work lads, keep it up.
    God bless you

  3. Posted February 16, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    When choosing a font for your website, it is important to keep this type of information in mind. You want your site to be as easy as possible for people to read and navigate so be sure to select a font that will make them want to keep reading!

  4. Posted February 16, 2011 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    I really enjoyed reading this article. I would like to share this with my graphic design community. Thank You and i’ll be sure to refer them to your website.
    :)

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