Times Roman

Times Roman

A comparison of Times New Roman with the typeface it replacedHe also reduced the “tracking, ” or spacing between each letter, to make a more condensed typeface. As you might imagine, moving letters closer together could also make them harder to read. To protect his second goal of readability, Morison had to alter the shape of the letterforms. The thicker portions of each letter—for example, the vertical lines of the “n” above—were widened, so that the letters held more ink and appeared darker when printed, which contrasted more clearly against the paper. The intersections of these thicker strokes were thinned; for example, where the vertical lines of the “n” meet its serifs. This kept the shape of the letters from becoming muddled and also gave them a rounder, more legible look. All of these differences can be clearly seen in a comparison of the old typeface with Morison and Lardent’s new creation, which The Times around the time of the change.

A comparison of Times New Roman with the typeface it replaced

The Times tested its type thoroughly. In 1926, the British Medical Research Council had published a Report on the Legibility of Print, and the new typeface followed its recommendations. Before final approval, test pages were also submitted to a “distinguished ophthalmic authority, ” (Morison, vol. 21, no. 247, p. 14) leading The Times to announce that its typeface had “the approval of the most eminent medical opinion.” The newspaper recognized that scientific analysis was well and good, but an equally important test was actually reading it. Members of the team practiced reading for long periods of time, under both natural and artificial light. After test upon test and proof upon proof, the final design was approved, and “The Times New Roman” was born.

The front page of the first edition of The Times with its new typeface

On October 3, 1932, The Times unveiled its new typeface with great fanfare. “From September 26th to October 3rd, ” notes The Monotype Recorder, “all the readers of The Times were reminded, daily, of the importance of type and printing.” It was the first time that a newspaper had designed its own typeface, and The Times owned its exclusive rights for one year. In the following years, American publishers were slow to adopt Times New Roman because in order to look its best, it required an amount of ink and quality of paper that American newspapers were initially unwilling to shell out for. It eventually caught on as a typeface for books and magazines, with its first big American client being began printing with it in 1953.

John Jacob Astor V, Chairman of The Times, prints the first newspapers set in Times New Roman

An interesting footnote to the development of Times New Roman trickles down to us in the present day. The original hardware for the typeface—the “punches” that helped create the molds for casting type—were created jointly by the Monotype Corporation and the Linotype Company, the two main manufacturers of automated typesetting machines and equipment at that time. Both companies subsequently made sets of the type for purchase. Monotype named its type “Times New Roman, ” while Linotype used “Times Roman.” Fast forward to the computer era: when selecting “fonts” for their word processing programs, Apple chose to license the Linotype catalog, and Microsoft licensed Monotype’s. That’s why the name of this typeface is slightly different depending on your choice of Mac or PC!

Source: www.nypl.org
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