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LUC DEVROYE


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MoMA 2011

A rather puzzling news item reached us in January 2011---the MoMA in New York has acquired 23 digital typefaces for its collection. I wonder how one acquires a typeface? Is there only one original? The typefaces were chosen with a foresight of the scope of the digital revolution, and they all significantly respond to the technological advancements occurring in the second half of the twentieth century. Each is a milestone in the history of typography. One can easily set up a web site that shows those 23 fonts, so what is the point of all this? The 23 acquired typefaces are:

  • American Type Founders: OCR-A (1966)
  • Wim Crouwel: New Alphabet (1967)
  • Matthew Carter: Bell Centennial (1976-78)
  • Matthew Carter:ITC Galliard (1978)
  • Erik Spiekermann: FF Meta (1984-1991)
  • Zuzana Licko: Oakland (1985)
  • Jeffery Keedy: Keedy Sans (1991)
  • Erik van Blokland and Just van Rossum: FF Beowolf (1990)
  • Barry Deck: Template Gothic (1990)
  • P. Scott Makela: Dead History (1990)
  • Jonathan Hoefler: HTF Didot (1991)
  • Neville Brody: FF Blur (1992)
  • Jonathan Barnbrook: Mason (1992)
  • Matthew Carter: Mantinia (1993)
  • Tobias Frere-Jones: Interstate (1993-95)
  • Matthew Carter: Big Caslon (1994)
  • Albert-Jan Pool: FF DIN (1995)
  • Matthew Carter: Walker (1995)
  • Matthew Carter: Verdana (1996)
  • Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones: Mercury (1996)
  • Matthew Carter: Miller (1997)
  • Jonathan Hoefler&Tobias Frere-Jones: Retina (1999)
  • Tobias Frere-Jones and Jesse Ragan: Gotham (2000)
There are obvious biases here towards certain designers. The destructionist era of Brody and Emigre is overrepresented, and Zapf and Frutiger are underrepresented. This is not meant to be a list of best fonts, only those that had a technological design element, but then why is Monaco not there? And if impact is at least a partial criterion, why is Helvetica missing? Also interesting to note that about 50% of the typefaces in the list are interpretations of older designs.

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file name: Tobias Frere Jones Jesse M Ragan Gotham 2003 01


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Jesse M Ragan Gotham 2003 02


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Jesse M Ragan Gotham 2003 03


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Jesse M Ragan Gotham 2003 04


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Jesse M Ragan Gotham 2003 05


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Jesse M Ragan Gotham 2003 06 B


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Jesse M Ragan Gotham 2003 07


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Jesse M Ragan Gotham 2003 08


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Jesse M Ragan Gotham 2003 09


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Jesse M Ragan Gotham 2003 12


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Jesse M Ragan Gotham 2003 14


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Jesse M Ragan Gotham 2003 15


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Jesse M Ragan Gotham 2003 16


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Jesse M Ragan Gotham 2003 17


file name: Tobias Frere Jones Jesse M Ragan Gotham 2003 Poster by Bill Dawson 2015


file name: Matthew Carter I T C Galliard 1978


file name: Matthew Carter I T C Galliard Italic 1978


file name: Chauncey Griffith Bell Centennial Address 1937 Bitstream Version 1978


file name: Chauncey Griffith Bell Centennial Bold Listing 1937 Bitstream Version 1978


file name: Matthew Carter Bell Centennial Sub Caption 1978


file name: Erik Spiekermann F F Meta 2003 198858


file name: Erik Spiekermann F F Meta Poster by Elizabeth Hixon 2014


file name: Erik Spiekermann F F Meta Poster by Elizabeth Hixon 2014b


file name: Erik Spiekermann F F Meta Poster by Elizabeth Hixon 2014c


file name: Neville Brody F F Blur 1992 Poster by Iryna Kogutyak 2015


file name: Neville Brody F F Blur 1992 Poster by Sandra Brisighello 2015


file name: Hoefler H T F Didot 1991 Poster by Tony Mungiguerra


file name: Hoefler H T F Didot 1991


file name: Hoefler H T F Didot 1991b


file name: Hoefler H T F Didot 1991c


file name: Matthew Carter Verdana 1996 poster by Offeibea Adu Darko 2013


file name: Matthew Carter Verdana 1996 Poster by Will Hughes 2015


file name: Albert Jan Pool F F Din Poster by Paul Guevara 2015


file name: Albert Jan Pool F F D I N Poster by Grace Boyle 2014


file name: Albert Jan Pool F F D I N Poster by Grace Boyle 2014b


file name: Albert Jan Pool F F D I N Office Pro Black 2010


file name: Barry Deck Template Gothic Poster by Carolina Rosa


file name: Barry Deck Template Gothic 1990 Poster by P Brasil 2014


file name: Barry Deck Template Gothic Poster By Matt Chea


file name: Hoefler Gotham Black 2003







Luc Devroye ⦿ School of Computer Science ⦿ McGill University Montreal, Canada H3A 2K6 ⦿ lucdevroye@gmail.com ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org/fonts.html