2011 — RoboFont & Glyphs

RoboFont (an editor emphasizing extensibility and scriptability) and Glyphs (aiming at a simple, clean, contextual UI) are released. These UFO-based tools soon become a part of many type designers’ workflows.25, 26, 27

2010 — Fontspring

Founded by Ethan Dunham, Fontspring offers webfonts for download — an alternative to the subscription service model. Another distinction is a com­mon license for all found­ries in the collection. Fontspring soon adds an app license, and by 2014 over 200 foundries offer fonts through the retailer.20

1987–90 — IkarusM

IkarusM animation by Erik van Blokland, 1988

The Macintosh version of IKARUS is developed by Petr van Blokland, enabling even more independent designers to digitize their existing typefaces. (About box animation by Erik van Blokland.)5

1975 — Ikarus

Dr. Peter Karow’s IKARUS is introduced by URW at the ATypI conference. The software is later used by Agfa-Compugraphic, Berthold, ITC, Letraset, Linotype, Monotype, and others (including small foundries and individual designers) for converting type to digital format.2

2013 — Desktop font syncing

Monotype’s SkyFonts rental service enables fonts from Fonts.com, MyFonts, and Google to sync to the desktop.28 Adobe announces the Typekit library will be available for desktop use in the near future, as part of their Creative Cloud update.29

2013 — Cloud.typography

Established foundry Hoefler & Frere-Jones launches its own webfont service.27

2010 — Webtype

Launched by Font Bureau and Ascender, Webtype is a hosted service like Typekit, except that it sells per-font licenses, rather than flat-rate access to its entire library. The model is favored by some pro foundries and Webtype soon distributes fonts from multiple sources.21

2011 — Adobe purchases Typekit

2011 — Monotype purchases Bitstream and MyFonts

2010 — Google Web Fonts

Google launches its free webfont service on May 19, 2010.22

2009 — Typekit

Created by San Francisco company Small Batch, Typekit offers webfonts as a hosted service. The subscription-based library further fuels the use of webfonts among professional web designers.18

2009 — WOFF format

Developed by Erik Blokland, Tal Leming, and Jonathan Kew, the Web Open Font Format provides “garden gate” security to distinguish web use from desktop use. Concerns about piracy remain, but the format encourages several high-end foundries to offer webfonts.19

2007 — Rise of webfonts

Opera CTO and CSS co‑creator Håkon Wium Lie writes “CSS @ 10”, an article that stimulates the progress of webfonts.17

2006 — Twitter launches

The real-time information network is used widely by type designers and foundries. Within a few years it tops Facebook as a means of self-promotion.16

2004 — Facebook launches

The social network provides more visibility and affordable self-promotion to small companies. Type foundries and designers initially advertise through personal accounts, then via groups and pages.15

2000 — First OpenType fonts introduced

The first OpenType fonts from Microsoft and Adobe are released to the public around this time (though some non-Latin OT fonts were bundled with software before 2000). OpenType-savvy releases from indie foundries arrive a few years later.8, 14

1999 — MyFonts

Born as an independent branch of Bitstream, MyFonts is an online retailer that soon becomes the largest in the font business. 15 years after launching, its catalog will contain about 100,000 fonts from more than 900 independent foundries.13, 16

1996 — OpenType public announcement

Microsoft and Adobe develop a new cross-platform format. The wrapper for PS Type 1 and TrueType fonts enables advanced typographic features.8, 12

1993 — FontLab for Windows

Produced by Soft Union Ltd. of St. Petersburg and released by Pyrus North America Ltd., FontLab 2.0 is one of the first font editors for Windows.11

1991 — TrueType introduced

Apple and Microsoft reveal the results of their 1989 partnership: a new vector format for typefaces.9

1993 — World Wide Web

Tim Berners-Lee releases the first public version of HTML (Hypertext Mark-up Language). The World Wide Web enables direct contact with customers, eventually liberating many type designers from distributors.10

1990–92 — Economic recession

The downturn accelerates PostScript’s success, as desktop printing is cheaper than previous methods. In 1992, Adobe cuts its type department significantly.8

1988–90 — Font Wars

The industry reacts to Adobe’s monopoly on PostScript fonts (Type 1) and technology. First, Bitstream cracks Adobe’s PostScript encryption, then Apple and Microsoft announce their alliance to develop the TrueType font format. After these events, Adobe opens the Type 1 font format and PostScript technology.5, 8

1988–89 — FontShop

Joan and Erik Spiekermann’s company takes advantage of Adobe’s less proprietary attitude. FontShop is a pioneer of a new kind of font distri­bution, selling fonts from multiple independ­ent found­ries and type designers.5, 8

1986 — LaserWriter release

Developed by Apple and Adobe Systems, the LaserWriter is a 300 dpi printer with embedded PostScript fonts. Its release hastens the rise of digital typesetting and the demise of older systems.5, 8

1984 — Emigre

Created by Zuzana Licko and Rudy VanderLans, the collect­ive grows out of the arts mag­azine Emigre. They are quick to purchase a Macintosh and soon become the perfect model of an autonomous foundry run by designers. Many designers follow Emigre’s lead, joining their library or launching their own foundries.5

1970 — ITC

Set up by Aaron Burns and Herb Lubalin, International Typeface Corporation introduces a new method of marketing fonts, independent from any phototype machine manufacturer.1

1983 — Introduction of PostScript

Invented by Adobe in 1982, PostScript is a computer language capable of describing text and images on a printed page. It makes fonts accessible to the public, and permits typefaces to be designed and distributed independent of printing systems.5

1983 — Adobe Systems

Software company set up in Dec. 1982 by John Warnock and Charles Geschke. The profitability of their PostScript language encourages Adobe to produce original typefaces in digital format.4, 5

1981 — Bitstream

Created by Matthew Carter, Cherie Cone, Rob Friedman, and Mike Parker, Bitstream is the first to call itself a digital foundry. The company focuses solely on the design and distribution of typefaces, directed at various digital typesetting systems. They are supported by emerging hardware companies that developed digital systems but could not design their own typefaces as well.3

1986 — Fontographer

The first publicly available PostScript font editor appears. Its success helps establish the Macintosh as a tool for type designers.6, 7, 8

1984 — First Apple Macintosh

Relatively affordable and easy to use, the Mac allows graphic designers to set and edit texts with PostScript typefaces, democratizing a task that was previously limited to typesetting specialists.5

Timeline bibliography

  1. “Monotype Libraries: ITC”. Monotype.com, c.2012.
  2. “URW-Geschichte” (URW History). URW++, c.2007.
  3. Frank Romano. “The Parker Legacy”. Font Bureau, c.2014.
  4. “Adobe Fast Facts”. Adobe Systems, 2009.
  5. Robin Kinross. “The Digital Wave”. Eye, Summer 1992.
  6. Jimmy Gallagher. “Fontographer Reborn!”, Fontographer blog, May 13, 2005.
  7. Cliff Lehman. “Altsys: small company with bit-time graphics impact”. MacWEEK, April 24, 1990.
  8. Emily King. “New Faces: Type Design in the First Decade of Device‑Independent Digital Typesetting (1987–1997)”, 1999. Republished by Typotheque, 2005.
    Emily King. “Digital Type Decade”. Eye, Summer 2001.
  9. “TrueType”. Wikipedia. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
  10. “HTML”. Wikipedia. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
  11. “Fontlab Ltd. Company Profile”. Fontlab Ltd, 1993–2015.
  12. Tamye Riggs. “The Adobe Originals Silver Anniversary Story: How the Originals endured in an ever-changing industry”. The Typekit Blog, July 30, 2014.
  13. “MyFonts: November 1999 Release Notes”. MyFonts.com, November, 1999. Archived April 11, 2000.
  14. “What were the first OpenType font releases? And when?”. TypeDrawers discussion, September, 2015.
  15. Howard Greenstein. “Facebook Pages vs Facebook Groups: What's the Difference?”. Mashable, May 27, 2009.
  16. “Twitter”. Wikipedia. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
  17. Håkon Wium Lie. “CSS @ Ten: The Next Big Thing”. A List Apart, August 28, 2007.
  18. Ivan Beres. “TypeKit launches, hopes to save typography on the Web”. TechCrunch, November 11, 2009.
  19. “Web Open Font Format”. Wikipedia. Retrieved September 21, 2015.
  20. Fontspring.com. Archived Oct 7, 2010 and July 8, 2014.
  21. Press Release: “Webtype Launched by Partnership of Experts”. Font Bureau, August 17, 2010.
  22. Raph Levien, David Kuettel. “Introducing the Google Font API & Google Font Directory”. Google Code Blog, May 19, 2010.
  23. Press Release: “Adobe Acquires Web Typography Innovator Typekit”. Adobe Systems, October 3, 2011.
  24. Press Release: “Monotype Imaging to Acquire the Font Business of Bitstream Inc.”. Monotype, November 10, 2011.
  25. “RoboFont design principles”. RoboFont.com. Retrieved October 11, 2015.
  26. Various reviews of RoboFont and Glyphs. Typophile: Build forum, September 2011. Archived September 24, 2011.
  27. Ruxandra Duru. “Type Foundries Today” Analysis: Tools. Typographica. December, 2013.
  28. Jonathan Hoefler. “Making One’s Own”. Hoefler & Frere-Jones News, Notes, & Observations, October 21, 2013. Archived November 26, 2013.
  29. Frederic Lardinois. “Google Partners with Monotype to Bring Its Webfonts to the Desktop”. Techcrunch, May 1, 2013.
  30. Sean McBride. “Sneak preview: Syncing fonts to your desktop”. The Typekit Blog, May 6, 2013.
  31. Joep Pohlen. Letter Fountain website and timeline PDF, Taschen GmbH, 2011.
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