Non-Latin digital incunabula?

I'm looking for early examples of non-Latin digital fonts, both bitmap and vector. I know that some of the IBM CGA graphics cards had Hebrew, Cyrillic and Greek versions of their hardware fonts in international versions, but I don't know if they were the earliest. For vector fonts, I presume there were some non-Latins digitized by IKARUS, but I have no details; obviously Knuth did mathematical Greek in METAFONT, but I'm thinking more about general purpose text usage.

If anyone has more information, please let me know. I am particularly interested in early digital fonts for scripts not based on the baseline-and-rectangle model. (Arabic, Indics, etc.)


  • edited November 2019

    We also made an Arabic.

    And in the late '80s, I used my Amiga to make higher-res Armenian bitmap fonts for the launch of Horizon TV (instead of paying Chyron $2500 per size to burn bitmaps onto chips for their video editing system). In the early '90s we switched to outline fonts, using Broadcast Titler and the Commodore A520, a $60 modulator. Around that time I also made Arabic outline fonts, which were typed (backwards, hitting left-arrow after each letter :-) using a hacked keyboard driver; those were used by a tri-lingual yellow-pages, and Persian TV stations. And, of course, wedding videographers.
    I am particularly interested in early digital fonts for scripts not based on the baseline-and-rectangle model.
    Concerning Arabic, as with its adaptation to the Linotype (what Thomas Milo calls "Eurabic", I believe) certainly in the bitmap realm but AFAIK also in pre-Unicode outline fonts, the lion's share were made according to what might be called the four-cases-strung-on-a-baseline approach.
  • This is her PhD thesis? I shall have a read through it. And I suspect a visit to Reading is in my future.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,723
    edited November 2019
    It began life as her PhD, but was later revised and published. The first, UK edition is out of print, but there was a reprint in India that might still be available: Fiona Ross The Printed Bengali Character and its Evolution.
    An irony of early digital font technology is that you are more likely to find analogue design/production artwork than you are to find any accessible digital format. When Gerry, Fiona, and I were sorting the Linotype non-Latin archive in Bad Homburg to determine what would go to Reading, we had to bin racks and racks of tapes.
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