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RE: Origin of Verdana

From: Greg Hitchcock <gregh@microsoft.com>
Date: Wed, 25 Feb 1998 18:52:23 -0800
Message-ID: <2FEED299C092D1118B3100805F6F41BD171570@RED-MSG-09>
To: Bill Hill <billhill@microsoft.com>, "'Walter Ian Kaye'" <walter@natural-innovations.com>, www-font@w3.org
Just to clarify on the 96DPI issue.
In the very early Windows days there were some observations made. Ten point
text was the most common size used on the printed page, but when used on the
Macintosh screen, most users changed the text size to twelve point to make
it more readable. We found that most people read from the screen at an
increased distance over the printed page. In a controversial decision (and
one I still fully support) we changed the "logical" screen resolution to be
96 DPI instead of the ~72 DPI (and 96 x 72 in the EGA case). This made the
text larger than true WYSIWYG, but more legible for the given point size.

GregH
{uw-beaver,decwrl,fluke,uunet}!microsoft!gregh

		-----Original Message-----
		From:	Bill Hill 
		Sent:	Wednesday, February 25, 1998 8:11 PM
		To:	'Walter Ian Kaye'; www-font@w3.org
		Subject:	RE: Origin of Verdana

		The Macintosh's nominal resolution has remained unchanged
since it was
		launched in 1984. There were good reasons at that time for
picking 72dpi,
		since 1 pixel = 1 point. If you were concerned about print
publishing - and
		of course the Mac was very focused on that from early on -
then this
		resolution made good sense.

		I remember when I worked for Aldus in Europe (Nov 86-Oct94),
and I saw the
		first version of PageMaker running on a PC. With a Hercules
graphics card
		(non-square pixels) it looked horrible. I was appalled when
I compared it to
		my beloved Macintosh.

		Since then, though, PC baseline resolution has improved by
leaps and bounds.
		96dpi is pretty much the "lowest common denominator"
resolution we have
		today on Windows machines. Don't ask me "Why 96?" - but it's
better than 72.


		I find it really strange, when the Macintosh has such a
share of the
		graphics and multimedia markets, that its baseline
resolution has never
		changed in 14 years. What else in the computer industry is
the same as it
		was 14 years ago? Laser printer resolution went from 300dpi
to 600dpi and
		now 1200dpi in the same period. 

		The more pixels you have, the better job you can do when
displaying type on
		the screen. As you go down in resolution, and also drop the
size of your
		type, you get to a certain point where there just aren't
enough pixels to do
		the job.

		Another memory I have of my time at Aldus is of launching
Windows 3.1 for
		the first time, and calling in my boss to show him how crisp
and clear the
		type was on screen. That was the point at which I felt
Windows overtook the
		Macintosh in type quality on screen. At that time I had no
connection with
		Microsoft at all - but the type was great enough to make me
sit up and take
		note from 7000 miles away in Edinburgh. (Makes me proud to
now be running
		the MS group that did that, by the way).

		At Microsoft, we're going to take advantage of resolution
wherever we can in
		order to display type at its best for our customers. I find
9pt on the
		screen just too small for me to read comfortably, even on
Windows. On our
		Microsoft Typography Website, we try to use sizes that will
work on whatever
		system they're viewed. We're aware of the issues. But until
the Macintosh
		resolution changes, small type is always going to look
better on Windows
		than the Macintosh at the same size because of the scaling
problem you
		highlight.

		I guess the only solution today is that site designers need
to take into
		account how their site will display in a cross-platform
environment and
		specify type accordingly. You get less on the screen, but at
least it's
		readable. A lot of designers who put their sites together on
Windows
		probably aren't even aware there's a problem!

		As a user, of course you have the option of increasing the
default font size
		in the browser. Doesn't help, though, if it breaks the
carefully-planned
		design.





		> -----Original Message-----
		> From:	Walter Ian Kaye
[SMTP:walter@natural-innovations.com]
		> Sent:	Wednesday, February 25, 1998 2:16 PM
		> To:	www-font@w3.org
		> Subject:	Re: Origin of Verdana
		> 
		> At 12:09p -0800 02/25/98, Bill Hill wrote:
		> >For Verdana (and also Georgia, the serif family), Matthew
started by
		> >developing a set of bitmaps at the most important screen
sizes. These
		> were
		> >then used to draw the outlines, which were then hinted so
they generated
		> >those exact bitmaps, but were also scalable.
		> 
		> >Now, when it comes to designing characters for the
screen, especially for
		> >the small sizes typically used for block text, there are
a very limited
		> >number of pixels with which to play
		> 
		> What about the factor of "nominal" screen resolution? A
13" monitor at a
		> resolution of 640x480 has about 72 pixels per inch -- this
is the nominal
		> "dpi" (ppi?) for MacOS. For some reason, Microsoft puts
PCs at 96dpi (why
		> I don't know -- Pythagorean law should hold true for any
platform), with
		> the result that Arial 9 for Windows has the same number of
pixels as
		> Arial 12 for MacOS. I've seen Arial 9 on many MS/Windows
web pages, which
		> becomes quite illegible (~6.75pt) on the Mac. What is the
solution?
		> 
Received on Wednesday, 25 February 1998 21:52:27 UTC

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