For our new project we are very limited on what we can use as there is no technology anymore. In this blog i will be researching the history of typography and looking at how it was done in the old days before computers! It wont be as hard though as that we still have access to magazines, books etc to maybe cut out fonts and experiment with them.
I thought it would be useful to include a brief history video on type from youtube bellow.
This video got me thinking of how hard it was before technology came in, thinking that people had to literally write everything perfectly in line on sheets of paper with the feather and ink is mind blowing and sounds seriously tedious and it gets worse the further back you go in to the past!
Heres a timeline of the life changing events on typography which i found during my research.
Way back in history the first type of messages that we found were a series of simple images that represented some kind of story known as pictographs. The Egyptians used this a lot in the ancient times and this is proven as we’ve seen plenty of them in a vertical manner in ancient tombs and temples. other areas across the world also did use it though!
At around 1200 BC, the Phoenicians gained their independence from the Egyptians and developed their own alphabet which was the first ever one to be composed by letters. the form of the font was very rough but it was surprisingly readable in the image provided bellow.
The next civilisation to adopt the alphabet and experiment with it were the Greeks. They begun to develop the true beginnings of the modern alphabet that we are well known of now. They also added the first vowels (five of them). However their language didn’t insist of having punctuation, lowercase letters or spaces between their words.
The Romans than came in and developed even further with the alphabet by using 23 letters from the Etruscans who based their language on the Greek. The letters they had took were ABEHIZKMNOTXY intact, they then remodeled the CDGLPRSV and revived both F and Q. The Romans contributed short finishing strokes at the end of certain letters which brings Serifs’ to life. The Roman letters also feature thick and thin strokes unlike the others.
Lowercase letters further developed due to the fact all type was being hand written by scribes who developed less ornate handwriting styles and started using quicker and smaller versions of the letters themselves. The first ever form of lowercase was known as semi-uncial. The whole development of lowercasing the alphabet took a fair amount of time when it started in the late 900’s and developed by the 15th century. Punctuation was introduced in the 16th century.
Here is a list of a few well known type designers who changed the way we see type in the modern day and what they brought in to this world.
Claude Garamond from France was the first that developed the first true printing typeface not designed to imitate handwriting, but designed on rigid Geometric principles.
In 1557, Robert Granjon invented the first cursive typeface, which was built to simulate handwriting.
In 1734, William Caslon issued the typeface bearing his name which included straighter serifs and greater contrasts between major and minor strokes.
In 1757, John Baskerville introduced the first Transitional Roman which increased contrast between thick and thin strokes, had a nearly vertical stress in the counters and very sharp serifs.
in 1780 Firmin Didot and Giambattista Bodoni of Italy developed the first Modern Romans. The moderns carry the transitionals to the extreme. Thin strokes are hairlines, plus a full vertical stress.
In 1815 Vincent Figgins designed a face with square serifs for the first time and this became known as the Egyptians or more recently as the Slab Serifs.
In 1816 William Caslon IV produced the first typeface without serifs (sans serifs) of any kind, but it was ridiculed at the time.
In the 1920s, Frederic Goudy developed several innovative designs and became the world’s first full time type designer. We owe the Broadway typeface to him.
In 1954, Max Miedinger, a Swiss artist created the most popular typeface of our time…Helvetica. The Swiss also championed the use of white space as a design element.
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