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The Effect of Technology on Typography

written by: Amber Neely•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 4/20/2012

How did your favorite fonts and typefaces come to be? Thanks to the effect of technology on typography, we can expect more from typography as it grows to incorporate more and more things. This article explains effects of different technologies on typography and how current typography is changing.

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    Typography has gone through some drastic changes since its birth in ancient times. Once used for stamping royal seals and currency, it was adapted for communication, and moved forward to today, where it covers everything from logo design to merchandise design, movie posters to intricate works of art. Naturally, one of the biggest influences would be the effect of technology on typography. This article will teach you how typography has changed and adapted with the birth of new technologies, and how it will likely continue to grow and change along with technology as it evolves.

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    Typography in Ancient Times

    Ancient Roman Typography Typography got its start in ancient times, when lettering was originally done by hand (either in inks or chiseled in metal or stone) by artisans and scribes. This meant that it was a long and slow process, something that historically does not lead to quick adaptations.

    As typography spread across Asia, namely Korea and China, the advent of wood block and metal movable type printing blocks allowed for the reuse of symbols rather than requiring a hand carved or hand-lettered product every time. This ancient technology allowed the extra time for artisans and scribes to change, work, and adapt pre-existing typefaces, leading to more stylized and higher quality work.

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    Typography in Medeval Times

    Renaissance Typography The Renaissance ushered in a rebirth of art, science, and religion across Europe. Once again, scribes took up the quill to create elegant hand-lettered fonts, most of which can be identified by region simply from the style of the letters. For example, the Renaissance movements strongly inspired the German Gothic print which evolved into half-Gothic and Gothic-to-Roman print. As time and technology moved forward, typography was one of the first things that seemed grow and change with civilization.

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    Typography and Modern Technology

    Graphic Designer Thanks to the advent of the computer, typography is no longer limited to printing presses and large factories dedicated to distributing books and newspapers. Not only does the computer allow graphic designers and artists to design practical fonts, but really allows anyone who is willing to learn to design any kind of typefaces they would like.

    A quick trip to your favorite free font website allows you to really see the immense diversity of fonts offered, that could easily be used for practical or artistic uses, including web design, graphic design, logo design, posters, clothing design, and wonderful artistic compositions. And now, as technology progresses, changes, and adapts to our lifestyle, typography will continue to grow and change to meet our needs—both artistic and practical.

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    Resources

    Nesbitt, Alexander The History and Technique of Lettering Dover Publications Inc., 1957

    Korean Spirit & Culture Promotion Project Fifty Wonders of Korea Volume 1. Seoul: Samjung Munhwasa KSCPP: Diamond Sutra Recitation Group, 2007

    Pipes, Alan. Production For Graphic Designers 2nd Edition Prentice Hall Inc., 1997

    Diamond, Jared. Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Society W.W. Norton & Co., 1998.

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    Image Credits

    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kapitaal.jpg

    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bronze_trap.jpg

    Graphic Designer?, by bnkvc - http://www.flickr.com/photos/thatsmacster/3937246935/