Pleistocene Macintosh Bitmap Fonts...

This is a long shot, but no harm trying, having scoured the web in vain...

I'm trying to find information on the fbit font format. Even better would be a utility to convert fbit fonts into .bdf files or some other less obscure format.

fbit fonts were used to encode Han bitmaps in early versions of KanjiTalk etc. (i.e. dating back to the System 3.1 days). In the old days (circa 20 years ago) apple was meticulous about archiving old documentation and softwware, but that philosophy sadly died quite some time ago.


  • PS until posting this I'd never noticed the rather interesting fb ligature used by the TypeDrawers font...
  • Do you have such fbit fonts? If so, can you post a link to one (or preferably more)?

    "Older" file types (>20 yrs) are usually not that complicated to work out, what with our modern day systems boasting a thousand times the speed and a million times the memory specs they were designed for.
  • .. Did some random Googling. André, your memory is impressive: the date for a related utility, Elixir, is 22 May 1998, so spot on 20 years ago! (See

    Too bad, though: while that utility PanALE/UniText, after decompressing, does contain a couple of bitmap fonts with enticing names such as "New Beijing" and "New Tokyo", unfortunately they seem to contain just the standard default Mac character set as bitmaps in various sizes. That data is in the Resource Fork; view with a bitmap viewer and set the width to something around 2400 pixels to see the characters. The garbage before and/or after must be individual characters' offsets and widths. With that, it looks just like the old Font/DA Mover bitmap resources (and, probably not coincidentally, much like Windows' old .FNT files).

    The utility itself seems to be used to be able to enter Hanzi/Kanji using Latin keystrokes, but I suppose it assumes you already have the proper wide fonts.
  • Actually, the fonts I sent you are from 1986. My 20 yr figure was my guess for when apple stopped maintaining comprehensive software/documentation archives on their ftp site.
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,320
    I've got copies of Inside Macintosh volumes I through VI. These cover the Mac OS through System 7, but I was unable find mention of an "fbit" font format. I could have missed it. It's not like these are searchable PDFs. Although there is a PDF of I through III here: , but search for "fbit" came up empty on that.
  • Michel BoyerMichel Boyer Posts: 114
    If you can read Japanese, maybe this note can help: Technote 10004 (appears to be using the Japanese Shift JIS encoding). In a diagram I see a pointer to something called "fdef routine"... That may not be something easy to guess.
  • @Mark Simonson

    I too looked through Inside Macintosh and found no mention. It's also not mentioned in the Macintosh Technical Notes anywhere, though the oldest archive of tech notes I have already had lots of them deleted as being obsolete. I'm suspecting that the only documentation may have been in developer notes from Apple Japan which, unfortunately, I would be unable to read even if I could find them.

    @Michel Boyer

    Thanks much for the link. Even though I can't read the text, the diagrams may be useful. These are from System 7 and contain fields that wouldn't have existed back in '86 ('FOND' resources, for example, had yet to be invented), but it may still help!
  • Oops. I spoke too soon. Mac OS 3.0 would have been the first version of the system to use FOND resources.
  • Simon CozensSimon Cozens Posts: 512
    I'm not sure that technote is all that helpful; it's talking mainly about resolving a lack of font family ID allocations for Japanese fonts. It doesn't tell you anything about how the glyph data is stored.
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