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Influence of Technology

Influence of Technology

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In this lesson you will learn to be able to recognize the impact of technology on the history of type.

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Tutorial

What's Covered

Welcome to today's lesson on the Influence of Technology on font and design. This tutorial will discuss the influence of technology by focusing on:

  1. History of Technology
  2. Calligraphy
  3. Johannes Gutenberg
  4. Typewriter
  5. Computers
  6. Typefaces

1. HISTORY OF TECHNOLOGY

We're going to travel through time a bit here and see how technology has influenced type, and the development over time.

Below is incised, or carved wood, upon which the ink was later applied, then paper pressed onto it or the other way around

Similar to stamping, here is what the finished result might look like:



2. CALLIGRAPHY

While the image below is in a completely different language, it's handwritten type:

Here is another example of calligraphy from another language. Interesting and beautiful to see calligraphy across languages, yes?

This is calligraphy from a Latin bible:



3. JOHANNES GUTENBERG

A man by the name of Johannes Gutenberg-- a German jeweler and printer-- invented the printing press and printed the first book in 1456. The old printing presses used movable type as you can see here, and you'd arrange these blocks of letters.

The individual would then press the block onto paper-- hence the name, letterpress-- onto paper or on the books.

People to Know



Terms to Know

    • Johannes Gutenburg
    • German jeweler and printer, invented the printing press and printed the first book in 1456.
    • Movable Type
    • A component of Gutenberg's press, individual high relief characters each on their own metal block.

Here's an example of a book through letterpress. Imagine how much time it would take to press each letter onto the paper.



4. TYPEWRITER

As technology moves closer and closer to the digital age, the typewriter came onto the scene. 

It might be a bit hard to see in the image, but each key has a letter assigned to it. When the key is pressed, it swings a lever with the corresponding character and it inks it onto the page, which looks like this:

Typewriters had a mono-spaced type, which is a non-proportional typeface, so each character takes up the same amount of space-- as opposed to proportional-type spacing, where you have letter spacing that compensates for the shape of each character. So if you compare a typewritten page with a digital one, you'd notice the difference in line spacing. Because, again, each character took up the same amount of space, regardless of the shape of that character.

Terms to Know

    • Monospaced Type
    • A non-proportional typeface; each character takes up the same amount of space.
    • Proportional Type Spacing
    • Letter spacing that compensates for the shape of each character.

5. COMPUTERS

Take a look at this computer and tell me that we have not come a long way:


The image above is the CRTronic 360.This is called a photo-type setting, which means it would project light through a film negative of an image of an individual character, and all the photographic paper collects in a spool.

It was light tight, so light did not enter into it. Then, it would process in a machine with chemicals, similar to the old process of developing photographs.

Printers, specifically dot matrix printers, were introduced but not quite to the quality or resolution to which we are now accustomed. You can see why it was called a "dot matrix" printer by seeing the result here:


Laser printers were invented by Xerox in the late 1960s, and are still in use today. It featured fast, high-quality printing to the professional and consumer market. No other printer available at the time could offer such a combination of features, and guess how much something like this cost, even in the '80s? $3,500

Now, we get to our inkjet printers. And most of us are familiar with these, using CMYK subtractive color process. It mixes inks to produce text and images.


6. TYPEFACES

Type has gone through many changes, and not only the different ways of producing type, but type itself as well.

Modern typefaces now come as digital font files and arrive pre-loaded on computers, phones, and other devices. The three most popular font formats are:

  • Open type
  • True type
  • Postscript type 1

Open type is the most recent font file format and was developed by Adobe Systems, and could be used on both Windows and Macintosh computer systems. It uses the file extension OTF.

True type is a font file format developed by Microsoft, and it comes in both Windows and Mac versions-- and it uses the file extension TTF.

Postscript type 1 is another file format developed by Adobe, and it consists of two files. That uses the file extension PS. Some are pre-loaded on computers, and others can be downloaded from various font sites.

Terms to Know

  • True Type
  • A font file format developed by Microsoft. True Type comes in both Windows and Macintosh versions. File extension: .ttf.
    • Open Type
    • The most recent font file format; OpenType was developed by Adobe Systems and can be used on both Windows and Macintosh computer systems. File extension: .otf.
    • Postscript Type 1
    • A font file format developed by Adobe. Postscript fonts consist of 2 files. File extension: .ps.

Many times, when choosing fonts you will see that in addition to the font names and samples of what it looks like visually, it also tells you if a font is true type or open type. and that's indicated by the blue TT icon, or a black- and teal-looking O icon to the left of each one.

The extensions for each are OTF (open type) , TT (true type) or PS (postscript) extension.

Icons will give you a visual sample of what the font might look like, but it's good to know that a publisher of the font has control over the look of that icon.


Summary

This tutorial explored the history of technology with regards to the letterpress, which resembles stamping. Calligraphy across all languages was presented and Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press was discussed. The typewriter offered more efficiencies than the letterpress, and featured monospaced type. Computers and printers brought more efficiencies, but the early models resembled the old photography processes with chemicals and a light-tight container. And finally, typefaces have evolved with open type, true type, and postscript type.

Good luck!

Source: this work is adapted from sophia author mario hernandez. image of typewritten page, public domain https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onionskin#/media/File:Onionskin_paper.jpg

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Johannes Gutenburg

    German jeweler and printer, invented the printing press and printed the first book in 1456.

  • Movable Type

    A component of Gutenberg's press, individual high relief characters each on their own metal block.

  • Monospaced Type

    A non-proportional typeface; each character takes up the same amount of space.
 

  • Proportional Type Spacing

    Letter spacing that compensates for the shape of each character.

  • Open Type

    The most recent font file format; OpenType was developed by Adobe Systems and can be used on both Windows and Macintosh computer systems. File extension: .otf.
 

  • True Type

    A font file format developed by Microsoft. True Type comes in both Windows and Macintosh versions. File extension: .ttf.

  • Postscript Type 1

    A font file format developed by Adobe. Postscript fonts consist of 2 files. File extension: .ps.