Posts in category sans-serif - page 5

ZX OCR-B

Adrian Frutiger designed OCR-B for Monotype in 1968 as a more human-friendly alternative to OCR-A now that machines were getting better at optical character recognition. It can still be found in use today on the bottom of bar codes and the machine-readable part of passports.

This liberal adaptation I created on the Sinclair Spectrum +3 using Artist II in the late 1980s. Given the lack of strong visual cues it could be easily mistaken for a nice sans-serif although the numeric glyphs still shine through.

It is suitable for any scenario where a clean machine-influenced look is desired.

ZX SEMI

SEMI is an OCR font designed by SEMI.ORG to be used for character recognition on printed circuit boards.

This liberal bitmap-only 8x8 adaptation was made after somebody requested it on one of the forums and it takes more than a few cues from OCR-A but goes off in its own direction.

The actual font is upper-case only so I’ve had to imagine what the lower-case would be like in order to provide a full usable set.

This font works surprisingly well for most use cases.

ZX OCR-A

American Type Founders designed the OCR-A font in 1968 to aid machines in recognizing the characters optically long before advanced OCR technologies were available. The goal was to be both machine and human-readable and it was a great success and is still used today in a variety of places despite being followed by the more human-friendly OCR-B.

I created this liberal adaptation on the Sinclair Spectrum +3 using Artist II in the late 1980s. The strong distinctive style shines through even at this tiny size.

This font works well if you want a dated view of technological progress.

ZX Chicago

Susan Kare’s iconic Chicago shipped with the original Apple Macintosh in 1984 and was the standard system font until MacOS8 replaced it with the TrueType Charcoal look-alike. It did receive a dust-off in 2001 to become the primary font on the newly launched iPod range.

I created this font around 1990 using Artist II on a Spectrum +3. Chicago wasn’t quite so iconic back then and the real challenge was trying to get a 12-pixel high proportional font into an 8x8. (MacOS has a 9pt ‘Chicago’ that is devoid of the distinctive bold flair). To keep the tall narrow style I reduced the width of some characters but then created a more relaxed ‘wide’ variant too. In early 2021 I added a “Twiggy” variant based on screenshots of the Mac prototypes that sported an earlier version of Chicago.

It achieves the job of looking like Chicago while not being too similar at a pixel level. It’s the feel of the 12-point using some of the style from the 10-point. I’d think this is what the 9pt should have looked like with some tweaks for mono-space and low-res readability.

This font works well for titles and large blocks of text although could benefit from a proportional renderer.