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27. 02. 2007  16:36 | 02_Project_Links_&_Ressources_4 , 12_Curated_posts

Electrifying the alphabet (back to the 60ies)

Volume 62 of the english graphic design magazine Eye countains an essay written by Sarah Owens about *Electrifying the alphabet*. This is history now and it brings us back into the 60ies, but it is interesting to read an article about a time when typographers were dealing with such experimental design questions as to make a typeface become readable by a machine or by both a machine and a human... --Thimoty Epps did a trial in this direction back in 1969, see eye_51_s.jpg below--). We all know now how useful this has revealed to be!
So this was the time of OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and MICR (Magnetic Ink Character Recognition --i.e. E13B, commissioned by the American Bankers, that was used and still is on cheques) technologies. But also such types as the OCR-A in 1966 or then OCR-B designed by Adrien Frutiger in 1969.
Even if not at the same level at all, I can see a thematic continuity between all those efforts of the 60ies and what we've tried to do during this project, with pattern designs & objects dedicated to be recognised by (web)camera, computers and softwares (XjARToolkit).

Finally, Sarah Owens ends her essay that way:
Symbols of a new modernity
Electronic alphabets were very much a product of their time, heralding a new age of electronically controlled communication, symbols of a new modernity. As results of both technological innovation and successful collaborations between engineers and design fields, they inspired and helped to advance typography into a new age: contemporary screen typefaces would be unimaginable without them. Perhaps it is now time for contemporary experimental typography to make a similar, lasting contribution."

eye51_03_s.jpg eye51_04_s.jpg
eye51_05_s.jpg eye51_06_s.jpg

Posted by patrick keller at 27. 02. 2007 16:36