ZX Chicago Great fonts should be named after world-class cities

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). In order to retain the tall, narrow style, I reduced the character widths. I later 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 font 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 bodies of text, although, could benefit from a proportional renderer.

Simulated usage