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Think Retro: Apple's fonts have always been as classy as its products

Christopher Phin | Feb. 11, 2015
Take a stroll down typeface memory lane.

You might recognize it, even if you don't realize you do, as the font used by Reebok, thought it was chosen for Apple, according to Rob Janoff who designed its logo, for its "playful qualities and techno look," something that underscored Apple's mission to make technology accessible to everyone. (Of course, there was also Ron Wayne's logo that predated this one, but if we just stop drawing attention to it, maybe it will go away.)

Even though it looks leaden and dated to our eyes now, in fact a little bit of Motter Textura survives on every Apple product even to this day. Or should I say, a little "byte" of it does, since originally the bite out of the Apple in its logo was designed to fit around the lower-case A:

Incidentally, the smaller size of that old logo sticker fits perfectly over the glowing Apple logo on some Apple laptops, and it looks terrific. I know because I had one on my old iBook; I've checked it against my 15-inch MacBook Pro (whose logo is too big for the sticker) and an 11-inch MacBook Air (perfect!) so if you keep an eye out on eBay you might be able to do a quick retro hack on your laptop!

Let's round things off with a quiz. Leave your answers--and your memories of Garamond and Apple's other corporate fonts--in the comments below, and I'll come back in a few days to give you the answers. (No prizes--well, unless you count the glow of smug self-satisfaction that comes from being right.)

  • With which product did Apple first use a cut of Helvetica? (Hint: it wasn't Yosemite.)
  • What font links Apple and Volkswagen, and how?
  • What is the name of Apple's newest font (to be used in a product which is still unreleased as I write), and why is that name familiar to old-school Mac users?
  • What font is shown on this iPod's screen, and why might that be a bit of a trick question?
  • What links the father of modern science with an English sculptor?
  • (This one is an unapologetic font nerd question, only tangentially related to Apple, but screw it; I think Frutiger's system is interesting!) Beginning in 1984 with the Apple IIc, the font used on early Apple keyboards was Universe 57; what does the 57 signify?

 

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