I've been making fonts on the Mac since 1987 (with Fontographer) and I was thinking about the technical advances that have been made the most difference for me:
- PostScript and Fontographer. Practically goes without saying.
- Larger screens. The 512 x 342 pixel 9" Macintosh display was a real problem. It was like designing through a keyhole.
- Affordable PostScript laser printers. Early PostScript laser printers were beyond my budget. Until I had one, I relied on others who did, such as Kinko's or service bureaus, which was a big bottleneck in the design process.
- Flat screens. Large CRTs were better than small ones, but they often had inconsistent geometry, and the curvature could be misleading. With flat screens, all these problems vanished.
- Anti-aliasing in font editors. Short of higher resolution displays, this made it easier to judge the shapes of curves.
- "Retina" displays. This has significantly reduced the need for making printouts and brought true WYSIWYG to font editors.
The speed of processors has also been a factor, but that's been more of a gradual thing.
I'd be curious to hear what advances have been significant for other type designers, including those on Windows and other platforms. Also, I might be forgetting things. Finally, what future advances might be on the horizon or do you wish for?