If the number of typefaces out there seems overwhelmingly gigantic, even infinite, that’s because it is. Digital technologies have made the creation, distribution and use of fonts amazingly easy. As a result, brilliant type designers are constantly at work on new, interesting ways to shape our alphabets. You can rest assured that there will be more fonts next week than there were this week. It wasn’t always this way. Before personal computers and word processing, the process of both designing and printing fonts was a lot more cumbersome, limited by technologies that are now obsolete. In the last post, we laid out the basic terms needed to describe typography.
Soon, we will look at the evolution of typeface styles over the centuries, leading up to today’s ever-expanding array of digital letter forms. But because style and technology always progress hand-in-hand, another amazing history lesson must come first: the evolution of printing technologies, from Johannes Gutenberg to the PC. Pre-digital type sms marketing service technologies Handwriting and calligraphy, 3200 BC This was a system of written language emerges in ancient mesopotamia. It is handwritten on parchment-like material. Calligraphy in action; photo by Crypt K. Woodblock printing, 220 AD This technology, which emerged first in Asia, involved cutting a section of text into a single block of wood, dipping it in ink and pressing it onto paper to make copies. Once carved, the woodblock bears the text permanently.