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Saturday, September 11, 2004

Fonts in the news, indeed.

For once, our "Fonts in the News" feature isn't a diversion but takes us right into the middle of the presidential election coverage. So what do typographers think of the CBS documents? (I'm suspicious of the presence of a 'smart' apostrophe in a typed document. I also think it's much more in the interests of pro-Bush people to generate forgeries in this case than pro-Kerry people.)

Update 9.12.04: See also The Shape of Days for fascinating samples from an IBM Selectric Composer, circa 1973, and Microsoft Word, circa 2004.

Copyright © 2004 by Philocrites | Posted 11 September 2004 at 9:02 AM

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September 11, 2004 08:55 PM | Permalink for this comment

I'm not a typographer, but--

The Navy had proportional font typewriters, which I used in 1978. They were IBM Executive models, and the ones we had were several years old when I used them. Here's a site that gives some dates IBM typewriters were made. It appears the Executive model was available in 1971. The Selectric Composer, also proportional, was available in 1966. We had one of those in 1978 as well, but a Composer would've been much more expensive and less likely to be used in that command office.

My use of a typewriter like this was justified because I typed technical manuals. I'm sure there would've been other reasons to allow purchase of such a typewriter by the command office in question, if they wanted one. It's certainly possible, though somewhat unusual.

After reading about this controversy, I also experimented with the superscript function in MS Word, and confirmed the superscripted "th" in the 04 May 1972 memo wasn't created in the version of MS Word I have. It's placed too high. However, in the office where I worked in 1978 (not 1972, mind you) we could get "rub on" characters on glassine sheets to add unusual symbols such as degree signs. The IBM Executives also had removable type bars to provide alternate type, but I don't know what was available, and the "th" in the memo looks crooked, so I'd guess it was a rub on.

The font doesn't look like Times Roman to me. Times Roman is more compact. It could be a less compact modern font, such as Bookman Old Style, but it reminds me a lot of the type we produced on those IBM Executives. However, it's been years, and again I'm no expert in typography.

In any case, I have a feeling this question will never be answered definitively, and people will just believe what they want to.

thomas hill:

November 19, 2004 10:57 AM | Permalink for this comment

Is there a market for the IBM model C & D with the cloth ribbon. I have a couple and was wondering what I could get for them from a collector maybe. Color light tan.
Thomas Hill

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