Transition To Digital Type

Are there any articles that discuss the transition to digital type and the rationale behind the origins of the digital font desktop licensing model (per user/computer) that we still use today? I know I've read about this topic before, but can't recall exactly where.

Comments

  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 703
    edited February 16
    Early computer fonts were printer-based, being neither WYSIWYG nor scalable on screen. As they only worked with a given high-end expensive device, they were licensed per output device. This was the norm in the 1980s, until TrueType and ATM (for PostScript Type 1) complicated things in 1991–92.

    I don't know any specific articles on the topic, though.
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,363
    Did per user pricing originate at Adobe? Or was it from a smaller foundry like Emigre?
  • Adobe initially changed their licensing from per-output-device to "up to five users," when they first went to user-based pricing (I am thinking that it also included maybe two devices? but my memory is fuzzy). This would have presumably been about the time of the arrival of ATM.

    Not sure who first did user-based pricing. Emigre started in 1984, but I don't know what licensing they initially used.
  • Does anyone know the argument for or against user vs. device licensing? It's not clear that either side is more prominent in the current marketplace.
  • Originally, printer producers licensed the Postscript Language from Adobe to print everything. Then came all the interpreters so Adobe was not assured a big enough piece of the pie.  I assume they then went to the "user" scheme.  Today, a designer can produce everything in PDF [or as a web page] and send to clients and their print shops.  Since it is easier to count heads than it is to chase down all the forwarded chains of middle people, it makes more sense to go by user seat than output device.
  • Does anyone know the argument for or against user vs. device licensing? It's not clear that either side is more prominent in the current marketplace.
    Digital fonts were not originally WYSIWYG on screen, so back then it made sense to license by output device. The computer itself didn't do much with the font, and jobs were prepared whether or not the computer had the font.

    Nowadays, with the screen and the document being the place the fonts get used most, fonts being embedded in documents for later printing, and output being secondary, licensing by user makes more sense—and seems to be far more prevalent.

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