Saturday, July 14, 2012

Adventures in the (Dot) Matrix

Luis Sopelana commented this morning on yesterday's post, offering a link to mid-90s Casio products that used dot matrix typefaces earlier than I speculated yesterday. The one above translates Japanese characters into the same visual language.

Luis got me started rooting around in this question just a little more.

Above, a dot matrix typeface I downloaded for free. Note the descenders on the lower case letters, and the bump in the baseline on the upper case Q, to accommodate the tail.

Stephan Müller and Cornel Windlin designed Dot Matrix OT in 1991-98. Lineto, the type house Müller co-founded, publishes it and many other new typefaces. Both designers are based in Berlin.

A new offering from Lineto.

Both the free versions of dot matrix faces and the more interpretive ones (note, for example, that the lower case g in Lineto's Dot Matrix Two Regular goes one row below the baseline) were designed as responses to what may have been vernacular designs produced by people working for technology companies.

The Wikipedia entry for dot matrix printers suggests that the technology was invented in 1964, without specifying where or by whose brain/hand the innovation occurred. It does provide a narrative for early commercial releases:

"The LA30 was a 30 character/second dot matrix printer introduced in 1970 by Digital Equipment Corporation of Maynard, Massachusetts. It printed 80 columns of uppercase-only 5 x 7 dot matrix characters across a unique-sized paper."

And of course the screen display problem, which which is where all this started at a gas pump a few weeks ago, is related but different. But it's Saturday, and I got a long to-do list!

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