World Emoji Day: How ITC Zapf Dingbats paved the path for the smiley dominance
"Hermann Zapf is for typedesign and calligraphy what Michelangelo was for sculpture or Beethoven was for music", said one of Hermann Zapf’s former students and he was right. Zapf who passed away on June 2015 created around 200 typefaces in numerous alphabets, including Latin, Cyrillic, Arabic and Cherokee yet today we pay tribute to him as the godfather of the emoji.
After all, if this iconic type designer hadn't envisioned ITC Zapf Dingbats -aka the most acclaimed dingbats collection that went on to become the foundation for Unicode’s symbols- the emojis couldn’t have happened.
Zapf was one of the first designers to “predict that computers would both require and make possible digital typeface”.
Marconi, the typeface he designed for Hell-Digiset in 1972 was the first alphabet designed specifically for digital composition. Five years later, Zapf proposed to his friends Aaron Burns, Herb Lubalin and Edward Rondthaler from the International Typeface Corporation (ITC) to publish a typeface of special characters, arrows and symbols. So, he did.
In 1977, Zapf created about 1000 (or over 1200 according to Linotype) sketches of signs and symbols. ITC chose from those a subset of 360 symbols, ornaments and typographic elements based on the original designs, which became known as ITC Zapf Dingbats.
The font first gained wide distribution when ITC Zapf Dingbats, which consists of the subset chosen by ITC, became one of 35 PostScript fonts built into Apple's LaserWriter Plus.
“Symbol fonts such as Zapf Dingbats were especially handy in the early days of personal computing when integrating symbols and graphics into documents was harder” said a font and typography expert and vice president of FontLab, Thomas Phinney, on Zapf’s iconic legacy.
“Because Zapf Dingbats was built into the first PostScript printers by Adobe, it became a standard. Among designers it achieved a legendary status when David Carson made an entire article about Bryan Ferry unreadable by setting it in Dingbats for Ray Gun magazine.”
Today, as the world celebrates it’s annual World Emoji Day, we pay tribute to Zapf who is the inventor of the emoji long before Japan invented them.
Image: Flickr, KENT WANG
Image via mothersagun.tumblr.com
Steve Clayton via Microsoft