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  • Claude Garamond on Random Origin Stories of Various Fonts

    (#3) Claude Garamond

    • Dec. at 81 (1480-1561)

    Born sometime between 1480 and 1510, Frenchman Claude Garamond was one of the first independent engravers, making printed materials for customers on demand, rather than working for a printing company. As such, he was possibly the most important figure in the birth of commercial printing as an industry (except, ya know, bookmaking). The distinctive font that bears his name was born when he was commissioned by the King of France to print a series of books, based on the handwriting of the King's librarian.

    The extremely ornate font fell out of favor after his death, but a cleaner version of it was revived in the early 20th century, and is one of the most popular typefaces in the world today.

  • Courier (Howard "Bud" Kettler) on Random Origin Stories of Various Fonts

    (#11) Courier (Howard "Bud" Kettler)

    We have a soft spot for Courier and Courier New, because if you had a college paper that needed to reach a minimum page count, Courier New took up just a teensy bit more space, and we needed all the space we could get to pad out the page length.

    Designed to mimic the letters left by a strike-on typewriter, Courier was designed in 1955 by Howard Kettler for IBM. But IBM intentionally didn't trademark it, putting the font in the public domain, available for almost anyone to use. Because of its low cost, Courier became the State Department's font of choice until 2004, and is the industry standard for screenplays and computer code. Despite the success of Courier, Kettler continued working as a staff designer at IBM until he retired, and he died in 1999. We thank him for his service.

  • Helvetica (Mike Parker) on Random Origin Stories of Various Fonts

    (#2) Helvetica (Mike Parker)

    While a form of Helvetica was first designed in 1957 in Switzerland by Max Miedinger and Eduard Hoffmann, it was typographic designer Mike Parker who gave us the common version of the font that's the most popular in the world. Miedinger and Hoffman set out to design a very clear, easy-to-read font with no fancy bells or whistles or other design flairs, and Parker continued in their footsteps (which is probably why the font is so common all over the world).

    Born in London, Parker was responsible for the influential typesetting firm Mergenthaler Linotype Co., which added Helvetica to the common English lexicon. Helvetica is now found on everything from global subway systems to dozens of corporate logos to the Space Shuttle.

  • Edward Johnston on Random Origin Stories of Various Fonts

    (#5) Edward Johnston

    • Dec. at 72 (1872-1944)

    The iconic font used on the London Underground was created by Edward Johnson (evidently who went to the same school of font-naming as Garamond), during the throes of the World War I. Johnston created the font as a commission from the London Underground's parent company, which asked for a font that had "the bold simplicity of the authentic lettering of the finest periods" and wouldn't be mistaken for advertisements. The font was redesigned in 1979 to add thickness to the letters.

     

  • R. Hunter Middleton on Random Origin Stories of Various Fonts

    (#4) R. Hunter Middleton

    • Dec. at 87 (1898-1985)

     

    Middleton was born in Scotland, but moved to Chicago to study at the Art Institute. He later served as the director of typography at the prestigious Ludlow Typographic Company for almost 40 years. You've likely never heard his name, but everyone knows his iconic Stencil font, the the go-to design for military-themed TV shows and toys, including MASH and The A-Team. He also designed Coronet, which wasn't as influential but was still very popular and can be seen in the signature on the Velvet Underground's first album and the credits for Star Trek.

     

  • Myriad (Robert Slimbach and Carol Twombly) on Random Origin Stories of Various Fonts

    (#9) Myriad (Robert Slimbach and Carol Twombly)

    Slimbach and Twombly were principle designers at Adobe when they created Myriad, a clean sans-serif font that would become world-famous as the font of choice for Apple, replacing Garamond in 2002. (So if you were wondering where you'd seen it before, it's the font used for the word "iPod").

    It's also the brand font for a number of other major companies, including Rolls Royce and Linkedin, major universities, and the Royal Air Force. Slimbach still runs Adobe's type design department, while Twombly retired shortly after designing Myriad.

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About This Tool

Although we use a variety of fonts every day, few people know their origin stories. Who has created so many different fonts? The creative stories behind these fonts are sometimes fascinating and even have some surprising sources, some people may be inspired by cartoon lettering, music, and other forms, some are based on market demand, technical equipment update requirements, or design and artistic innovation. You must also have one of your favorite fonts.

Here are some of the origin stories of the most famous fonts' designs in the world. The generator has 12 items that describe various stories of fonts, welcome to check these inspirational creations. 

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