Early Typography on the first Macintosh

The 1984 Macintosh was revolutionary in many ways, it had a breakthrough bitmap display with user interface, was controlled with a mouse and had a friendly design, unlike any other computer at the time. The Mac’s has a bit map display, made up of a 512×342 pixel grid, comare that to the current iPhone X which although fonts in your pocket, has a pixel grid of 2436x1125. The image below demonstrates how the pixel density of todays devices is considerably bigger than the Macintosh screen. Pixels could either be white or black and the combination of white and black pixels make icons, letters and graphics. Because of this pixel grid, Susan Kare designed many icons on a squared graphs paper as it was a simple way to visualise the icons. As Apples first designer, Kare also designed the typefaces which were all bitmap. 

 

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Kare created a whole suite of different typefaces for the first Mac OS. Typography was a key part of the mackintosh's appeal,  it was a beautiful machine and apple team treated fonts as part of the design, not just an element that had to be there.  Steve Jobs recalls and his iconic 2005 Stanford speech that after he dropped out of college,  he started dropping in on the classes that interested him,  particularly a calligraphy class where he learnt about different typefaces and explored the beauty of them. He recalled that at the time he was just interested in the typography and had no thought of any practical application of this in his life,  however, he says when he went on to make the Mac years later,  all of this knowledge came back to him.

"Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and sans serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But 10 years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do.

Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backward 10 years later.
Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life." - Steve Jobs 2005

When Kare started to create these typefaces, she and another early Apple employee, Andy Hertzfeld, named them all after stops on a local train line to work. They were named Rosemont, Ademore and Overbrook. These were places that all the locals were familiar with,  however, Steve Jobs wanted fonts that would serve the Mac on a global stage. Kare and Hertzfeld, however, has come up with a smart system of naming type spaces after locations.  This was infinitely flexible meaning it would be easy to come up with new name ideas as future fonts were designed. Kare recalls that Steve Jobs liked the idea, but he wanted world-class cities. “Jobs thought that our idea of city names was fine, but suggested that ‘world class cities’ would be better than suburban towns,”

With this advice from Steve Jobs, fonts were renamed as Chicago,  Monaco, Geneva, Venice and more. This added a sense of glamour to the typographic names and was much more relatable to people around the world. When Apple released OS X Mountain Lion In 2012,  they realised that they had run out of big cats to name their software after. Previous releases were named after big cats such as Tiger, Cheetah, Puma, Jaguar, Leopard and Snow Leopard and Lion. After Mountain Lion, they realised there were no more big cats to name their releases after so they adopted a new approach. They now name their macOS versions after places in California such as Mavericks, Yosemite, El Capitan and Sierra