Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Do our computers have multiple typefaces/fonts because of a single class Steve Jobs took as a college dropout?

Here is an excerpt from his 2005 Stanford commencement address:
Reed College at the 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 and learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, and about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great...

If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionately spaced ones. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them.
Of course, it's entirely possible that the new market for word processing and graphic design would have brought about this development independently. But I also keenly remember how totally cool it was to see all the various font choices in my first Mac SE, and how different it was from the the IBM PCs.