If you want to say “Thanks,” do it in Geneva. Not the city of course, but Geneva the typeface, which incidentally is named for the city because Steve Jobs liked the idea of naming Macintosh computer fonts after world class cities. Furthermore,Genevais a redesigned version of the much celebrated Helvetica, which meansSwitzerland. And speaking of Helvetica, well it is thought that Bill Gates imitated Helvetica when Arial was designed for Microsoft computers. Meanwhile, the guy who designed Helvetica never capitalized on it, so to speak, and he was flat broke when he died. And did you know there is the Eco Font that uses 20 percent less ink because it uses a piece of software to poke holes in other fonts? It reduces ink consumption but is not necessarily being true to the font’s, um, type.
It’s easy to go on and on about typefaces because there are over 100,000 fonts and each has its own fascinating history dating back to the origin of the typeface species 560 years ago. And this is exactly what Simon Garfield does in his book, “Just My Type.” It’s meant to tell the story of type design through the ages. Some believe he rambles on too much while falling short of a truly detailed history. He delved into the story behind Times New Roman, without mentioning that the actual designer was like a stunt double to the person named as the designer. But he could be forgiven for that because the book is chock full of interesting trivia about typefaces, their designers, haters and fans. Who knew that the letters m, n, h, k, b, p and r are the only ones written in a clockwise direction? Then there was the typo in a 17th century printing of the Bible that said – “Thou shalt commit adultery.” Now that’s a really big mistake.