Here are the three best articles I found on the web covering Post Script, True Type & Open type type faces.
Each are credited on their respective articled, thank you to all.


:(1) The story of Fonts
courtesy of

The early years

When Adobe  launched PostScript in 1984, it supported two different types of fonts: so-called PostScript type 1 and PostScript type 3 fonts. Of these two, Type 1 was the more sophisticated format. It supported hinting, a technique to improve the output quality on lower resolution devices or at smaller font sizes and it also supported a more efficient compression algorithm of font data. The Type 3 specs offered some functionality that was not present in Type 1 but it was clearly a less sophisticated format.

Adobe kept the specification for Type 1 fonts for itself. They build an entire library of Type 1 fonts that customers could buy. Every PostScript output device included 36? of these fonts which in those days when fonts were still expensive compensated somewhat for the steep price of PostScript printers.

The specifications of Type 3 fonts were published and soon tools to create Type 3 fonts emerged and type foundries like MonoType released entire libraries of Type 3 fonts. The fact that Adobe kept the superior font format to itself made all of these companies very angry but at the same time PostScript became a runaway success that led to a much larger market in which everyone could sell fonts.

Not content with controlling the market of output devices, Adobe developed a version of PostScript that could run (albeit slowly) on personal computers so these could visualize PostScript data on-screen. This technology was christened Display PostScript.

The font wars of the early nineties

Adobe offered Display PostScript to both Apple and Microsoft but both companies were reluctant to give another company control over a vital part of their operating system. They were also unwilling to pay the stiff royalties that Adobe demanded. Realizing that they both shared a common problem, Apple and Microsoft decided to join forces. Apple would provide a font technology while Microsoft would come up with an imaging technology, similar to PostScript.

Apple engineers had already been working on several vector font technologies during the late 80's. Lead engineer Sampo Kaasila came up with a very promising technology codenamed Bass. This was first renamed to Royal and later to TrueType before being exchanged with Microsoft in 1991.

The Microsoft printer engine was named TrueImage. It was buggy and since both Apple and Microsoft didn't really need it, it never showed up in any of their products. The TrueImage RIP did show up in Aldus TrapWise and when that company was later acquired by Adobe, Adobe ended up selling a product that featured a fairly unreliable PostScript clone-RIP.

Apple made TrueType an integral part of System 7 while Microsoft added TrueType support to Windows 3.1 in early 1992. Adobe responded to the TrueType thread by releasing a tool called Adobe Type Manager (ATM) which improved the visual appearance of PostScript Type 1 fonts on computer screens. It also improved the output quality of these fonts on non-PostScript printers. At the same time, they also published the specifications of their PostScript Type 1 font format. The fact that font manufacturer Bitstream had successfully reverse engineering the Type 1 format may have helped a bit in this decision.

A lot of the major font foundries were reluctant to release TrueType versions of their fonts and focussed on Type 1 fonts instead. The market ended up being flooded by badly designed home made TrueType fonts. This, combined with flaws in the initial TrueType rasterizer used in Windows 3.1 gave the TrueType technology a bad reputation which it didn't really deserve and which is still present even today.

The QuickDraw GX failure

While Microsoft gradually improved its support for TrueType in subsequent versions of Windows, Apple was far more ambitious. They announced a plan to rework a major part of their operating system and improve the handling of interactive graphics and typography. This new technology was called QuickDraw GX and fonts that utilized all of the advanced features were called GX fonts.

Application developers were reluctant to spend much time developing fonts for a basically unproven technology that only ran on Macs and virtually no GX compatible fonts ever made it to the market. Eventually Apple was forced to end the development of QuickDraw GX along with several other ambitious projects like OpenDoc.

Multiple Master fonts

While Apple was working on QuickDraw GX, Adobe also introduced a new font format called Multiple Master. Multiple Master fonts are a kind of fonts in which the appearance of the font can be changed by the designer itself. A designer can create an instance of a font that is 'somewhat' bold or he can change the width of characters without sacrificing any typographic quality.

Multiple Master fonts themselves have met only limited success but the technology behind it is still used in some important Adobe products like ATM and Adobe Acrobat.

A new millennium, a new alliance

In 1996, Adobe and Microsoft surprised the entire industry by announcing that they would jointly develop a new font format that would merge the two main font technologies: PostScript and TrueType. This new technology is codenamed OpenType and it may end the font wars and multitude of standards that exist on the market.

OpenType is a hybrid, TrueType alike font format that can contain both TrueType of PostScript font data. This makes it easy for Adobe to convert its existing library and finally gain a solid foothold in the Windows font market. Microsoft has added OpenType support to Windows 2000 and hopes to expand its marketshare in the publishing market, traditionally dominated by the Macintosh. Users also benefit from OpenType since it is completely platform independent and offers advanced typographic features as well as support for enhanced character sets like Unicode.

The first OpenType fonts appeared on the market in 2000. Adobe has also adapted ATM so other operating systems besides Windows 2000 support OpenType. It is still too early to know whether OpenType will become as popular as its two originators hope it will be, but it is an interesting new technology.

My thanks to for this article. This site is excellent offering insights into printing and fonts in general.


(2) True Type Fonts
by Laurence Penney courtesy of "True type history"

  Back in the late 1980s, it was clear to most of the major players in the personal computer world that scalable font technology was going to be an important part of future operating systems. Adobe was trying to get Apple and Microsoft to license its PostScript code for this purpose. This solution (which became Display PostScript) had the right features, but both companies were naturally concerned about handing control over key parts of their operating systems - not to mention millions of royalty dollars - to Adobe. (DPS was too slow for the target machines anyway, ending up only on Steve Jobs' NeXT computer.) Also, Apple was irritated that Adobe licensed PostScript to printer manufacturers who undercut Apple's own LaserWriter. So, Apple and Microsoft agreed a cross-licensing and product development deal, the fruits of which would be available to both parties: Microsoft would bring a PostScript-style graphics engine to the table (TrueImage), while Apple would create a font system even better than Adobe's.

Nothing ever came of TrueImage. It was buggy when delivered, and Microsoft and Apple realized they didn't much need it anyway. (It's clear to see who got the better deal out of the arrangement!) Application developers want to do things their own ways, not get locked into writing clones of Adobe Illustrator. [Years later, Apple (whose customers are most demanding that graphics be handled effectively) released a system much better suited to interactive graphics and typography: QuickDraw GX. But application developers have been slow to use its amazing features - perhaps because if they do and their product is a success, everyone else will copy them immediately.]

Adobe took the loss very seriously. It had failed in its bid for total control over PC font technology. Its response was twofold. In mid-1989, when they learned that Apple would not be requiring its technology, they announced a program, Adobe Type Manager, before it had even been written. About a year later, you could buy ATM to display Adobe Type 1 fonts on the Macintosh, without any help from Apple. ATM was sold cheaply, or was bundled with fonts bought from Adobe. The second bold move was to publish the Type 1 font specification. (Previously font foundries had to pay Adobe royalties to create Type 1 fonts. The font data was encrypted, and it was not possible to retrieve the control points - except deep inside an Adobe PostScript engine. But now anyone could write a Type 1 font editor.) In fact Adobe had this move forced upon them, since the TrueType specification had been made public, and because Bitstream cracked the Type 1 format anyway. Bitstream soon released hundreds of Type 1 fonts and a fast ATM clone, FaceLift.

Apple had been developing what was to become TrueType from late 1987. At that time there were many competing font scaling technologies, and several would have been suitable for the Macintosh. It was by no means certain, according to lead engineer Sampo Kaasila, that Apple would adopt TrueType. In the end though, it proved itself on performance and rendering quality (at high and low resolution) against the others. Kaasila completed his work on TrueType, though it didn't yet have that name, in August 1989. The following month Apple and Microsoft announced their strategic alliance against Adobe, where Apple would do the font system, Microsoft the printing engine. Apple released TrueType to the world in March 1991 - the core engine in much the same form that Kaasila left it back in 1989. This first customer version was an 80K add-on to System 6.0, available until recently on the Apple website! The system needed fonts of course, and the first TrueType fonts - Times Roman, Helvetica and Courier - were great examples of what could be done with the technology. TrueType has been built into the Mac operating system ever since.

Microsoft introduced TrueType into Windows with version 3.1 in early 1992. Working with Monotype, they had created the superb core set of fonts - TrueType versions of Times New Roman, Arial and Courier. These fonts showed, just as Apple's TrueTypes had, that scalable fonts could generate bitmaps virtually as though each size had been designed by hand.

With non-fancy fonts, the system generally worked well. However, since Windows 3.1 had to run on machines with slow 16-bit 286 processors, the TrueType system had to be reconfigured as a 16-bit implementation of Kaasila's fundamentally 32-bit architecture. (While a 32-bit simulation would have worked, some thought that would have been too slow on these base machines.) Memory allocation worked only "most of the time". At large sizes, the whole system would became less precise, although that wasn't the worst thing. In some fonts that were made faithfully to the specification, complex characters would sometimes fail to display at all, or they'd appear on screen but not on the printer, mystifying and infuriating font users the world over.

Things were bad for the font developer too. Complex glyphs had to be simplified. Hinting code had to work around the 16-bit limitations. Fonts that worked fine on the Mac, developed with the TrueType hinting tools (all Mac programs, mostly written by Kaasila), would fail in Windows. TrueType hinting was hard enough already without this to contend with, and several font foundries abandoned earlier commitments to release their type libraries in TrueType format. (Even now, type foundries have many typefaces just waiting for a big customer to say "I'll have 10,000 licenses please" to justify the man-years of TrueType engineering.) So it was that the main type foundries left the huge market for TrueType fonts on Windows wide open. The market was soon flooded with cheap fonts scanned or stealthily converted from other people's work - mainly bug-ridden fonts of dubious ethical quality, with wobbly outlines and useless hinting. The perceived quality of TrueType as a whole suffered from these abominations, at least on the Windows platform, and for years TrueType itself was much maligned by type professionals.

Only in August 1995, with the release of Windows 95, did Microsoft's TrueType engine become 32-bit, complete and reliable. Indeed, it now features greyscale rasterization (anti-aliasing), enhancing on-screen text substantially. Microsoft have commissioned some superb new TrueType fonts that they give out free on their website. The rehabilitation of TrueType is well underway.

by Laurence Penney
The full article is here>>


(3) What is the history of True Type
byDavid K. Every

The Beginning

Apple had just completed the world's easiest to use computer. The computer had many things that no small computers had had before -- one of these was built-in Networking.
Why networking?
Well sharing information in groups was important, but some peripherals were also very expensive. One of the most expensive of these was something else Apple was the first to release, a PostScript Laser Printer.

A PostScript Laser Printer was going to cost $6000 each. Sharing this device would create the "Mac-Office" (ever wonder where Microsoft got the name for Microsoft Office?). Sharing this printer would share the costs over 8 or 10 people. This made it much more cost-effective. The laser printer was still going to be a hard sale, but it was also going to be a success -- because it could do so much for users. The Mac and a laser printer actually started the whole concept of Desktop Publishing. It revolutionized the way many people dealt with the printed (or unprinted) page.


Apple could easily have created their own scripting and printing technology for the laser printer and in fact this path was explored with a project (later) code-named QuickScript. QuickScript was a zombie project that kept coming back from the dead. Apple had already done QuickDraw, and QuickScript was just a way to extend this for printers. But a group of people that had broken away from Xerox were also trying to create a universal printing language called PostScript. This company called themselves Adobe, because of the founders lived near "Adobe Creek". Apple saw that their work was good, and decided to become one of the early investors in the company and its technology.

Adobe was going to market this new language for many devices and make it a universal printing standard, and that was much broader a goal than Apple's QuickScript. Since Apple used standards whenever possible, they signed on with Adobe and PostScript.

The idea was a success, and PostScript not only ballooned, it literally exploded in growth. By 5 years or so later it was THE standard way to communicate to high-end pre-press devices.
Adobe was now getting very arrogant. Where their original goals were to expand printing and be very open, their development and ideas were now becoming more closed and keeping their standards more proprietary. This is how it is for a lot of software companies -- when they are small, they want to share, be open and grow. Once they become large (or the largest), they no longer want to share because competition does not mean growth, it can only mean shrinkage (of marketshare) -- they want it all for themselves.

When Adobe created PostScript they built two font technologies for it: Type-1 and Type-3 fonts. The Type-3 font standard was public and anybody could use it. Type-1 fonts were better and were reserved only for Adobe and their extorters. Type-1 used a technique called "hinting" to make the font look much clearer at smaller sizes. Adobe was using their new found muscle to crush the smaller guys, and basically was trying muscle out the competition. It was not very nice of them.

TrueType (the early years)

Apple tried to deal with the smaller company with the larger ego, and compared to Apple's ego, that says a lot. But Adobe would not play ball and so QuickScript was revived again. Apple decided that if Adobe was not going to play nice any more, then Apple was going to have to create their own printer script and their own font technology.

So Apple created TrueType (the font foundation of what was later to become QuickDrawGX), and it was much better than Adobe's font technologies. Instead of being a stream of cryptic codes (PostScript and its font technology), TT had well-organized tables with easy look-ups. Instead of having cryptic and proprietary hinting, TT had plug-in hinting and open structures. TT also had much more capability to expand -- with greater character support and nice printing features like Glyphs, Ligatures, other writing systems and more. It was prepared to be an open standard. TT fonts had the capability to be "resolution independent" so users could set the font to any size, and have the font rendered cleanly, quickly and without being blocky. Basically Apple beat Adobe at their own game.

Now you can't have a standard if no one else is using it. In strolls Microsoft. MS was working on their own cheap and hacky version of resolution independent fonts, and they were not doing very well.
Apple was already releasing TrueType, and MS desperately needed to catch-up again. They decided to license TrueType from Apple, and as part of the agreement they were to give Apple a PostScript Clone renderer (rasterizer) that MS called TrueImage (or some such). It later turned out that Microsoft's rasterizer was so bad that it was unusable for either Apple or Microsoft, and it died a quick and painful death. But that didn't matter because Microsoft had obtained TrueType.

Microsoft does not believe in using standards very often. They believe in making all their stuff a little different, and to change things constantly so that people have to keep coming back to Microsoft. TrueType was no different. It was completed, it was working (on the Mac), and it was standard. So MS changed it a bit. This way the fonts would be a little different on Macs and PC's, and MS's versions would be a little quirky. Microsoft also convinced the bleating masses of PC users that MS had something to do with TrueType other than licensing it from Apple. MS convinced many that they had created a technology when in fact they had really just bought it.

Adobe was instantly humbled. They saw that Apple had created a font technology that was better than theirs (and MS was using it). Apple was being Open and suddenly Adobe got a conscience and realized the errors of their ways. They "opened-up" Type-1 fonts and made them an available format plus the fees for Type-1 and Postscript  substantially dropped. Adobe became the new nice Adobe, because Apple had the upper hand and they had no choice. Many people don't even remember the Evil Adobe that existed for a few years there -- and no one thanks Apple for forcing open-standards. But such is the life of Apple.


Apple is full of techno-weenies and computer artists. They are not content to rest on their laurels and leave great-enough alone. They had partially finished QuickScript for the 4th time, and had TrueType fonts working -- but they wanted to create the next killer imaging system. It had to be way cool, and full of neat technologies. It was going to be object-based. This time they got enough funding, got far enough along, and finished QuickDrawGX, and the even better GX-Font technology.

QuickDraw GX rocked the graphics imaging world as far as its capabilities were concerned. It didn't just beat the competition, it blew it out of the water. However, there were mistakes as well:

  • GX used a different type of buffering that was more efficient if every App was using GX (and was updated), but Apple couldn't get everyone to update. So using half-GX and half traditional QuickDraw caused space inefficiency (i.e. it was a memory pig). GX itself was not the problem -- it was GX with traditional QuickDraw that was a problem. But it gave GX a bad name.
  • Apple also decided to start charging for their operating system and upgrades (to tap into that revenue stream that MS was making bazillions of dollars off of); before this time Apple was giving away the OS and upgrades for free. And to that end GX started out as a sold component. That alone meant that it was not ubiquitous, and so there wasn't enough installed base to justify application development costs.
  • Apple also pigheadedly would not license this imaging technology to the PC side. So any application writers would have to have two separate versions of their programs -- the Mac versions, and others.
  • But the biggest nail in the GX coffin was Adobe. Adobe owned Illustrator and Photoshop and had bought Aldus (and PageMaker). They had the power of the Software, and also controlled the supply of many fonts. They refused to support GX because it was better than PostScript and PostScript revenue streams might diminish . So screw their users, screw functionality, this was about big bucks. Adobe effectively blocked GX by refusing to support it.

Apple is getting smarter, and GX has been revamped a bit. It is a separate DLL now, and works cross platform. GX is going to get one more shot at life (if Apple wants). If they can include GX as part of QuickTime and with QuickDraw3D, then it stands a much better chance of success. It would certainly be better for users than other imaging systems, but we'll have to wait and see on this one. Apple has not been really fast about doing anything with GX. Also GX enables some capabilities for distribution of graphics across the internet that are just unparalleled. It has some awesome capabilities (graphics are small and versatile and resolution independent). But GX has also fallen out of favor in Apple -- many of the bigger boys at Apple today are from NeXT and they can't seem to get over their biases. The jury is still out, and we'll really see what is going to happen in the next few months.


Microsoft and Adobe have now released a new unified font technology of their own called "OpenType". What is it? Why it is a cheap copy of Apple's TrueType based GX Fonts, with some proprietary stuff thrown in. Odds are it's a marketing ploy and a way for Adobe and Microsoft to deliver an inferior copy of something Apple started developing 10 years ago. Worse than ripping off Apple's font and imaging technology, Microsoft and Adobe did it in such a way as to guarantee that it is incompatible with QuickDrawGX. This is more about power and control than delivery of good technology or helping users. We will have to wait and see where this goes, but for now OpenType is a poor copy of something that the Mac has already had for many years.

To add insult to injury OpenType is called "open", yet it has far more closed systems with regard to rendering and font design than GX-Fonts. So OpenType is not "open", as compared to GX-Fonts. OpenType is more a way for Microsoft and Adobe to respond to GX, and to control more, close down individuality, creativity and the versatility of fonts. GX-Fonts are still far superior in multi-language environments as well - more "open" internationally. But it's about image, not functionality. Adobe and Microsoft now get to market OpenType, pretend that it is something that they created (when they really ripped it off). They also get to rake in the profits and close down the competition while convincing many that they did something good when they in fact harmed the industry with a closed-standard that they call "OpenType".
The full article is here>>


Links to further information:


  • Will Harris (discussion of typography on the web, particularly the problems associated with adopting OpenType)
  • MS Press Release: "Adobe Systems and Microsoft Deliver OpenType Font Specification"