Silentype font

For reasons which will become clearer after a few more backstories (I thought I should post something “useful”), I set out in September 2003 to create a font of the Silentype character set for modern computers.

I had a copy of Fontographer I had previously used for logo font creation I could use to make the font, but I didn’t have enough samples of the character set of the Silentype to be able to do as full a job as I would have liked.

So I turned to Usenet (most readers of this post won’t need, I suspect, to be told by Wikipedia what Usenet is – but it’s there, just in case) and received various replies trying to help locate a printout of the complete set or confirming my interpretation of the technical documentation on how the character set was generated on the original Silentype.

While waiting for the hoped-for complete character set sampler from a real Silentype, I went ahead and made a font with the characters from printouts I had from “back in the day”. I was short at least 16 characters, though, so I also went looking for any references to current owners of Silentypes. Direct appeals went unanswered, leading me to widen my net further to the forums (I always want to type “fora”) at Erik Klein’s Vintage Computer site.

Still no joy. But in an object lesson on keeping an open mind when trying to create resources like this, I noticed in late February 2004 an eBay auction of several Apple ][-related manuals, including a Silentype one!

I fired off a quick e-mail to the winning bidder, one Cristophe Janot, who very quickly (and kindly) not only confirmed that the manual had a sampler of the Silentype character set, but happily provided a scan of same.

I was able to complete the font and announce it to the world – but I never got around to properly distributing it. (As an aside, three years later, I had a request from a young Apple collector asking for a copy of the font files – coincidentally, this same collector won one of my eBay auctions in 2010 without either of us being aware we’d already communicated about retro-computers. As he primarily collects Macs, and I Apple ][s, and we are very much aligned on the whole “preservation” thing, I’ve since been able to pass on a significant amount of Mac materiale to minimise my clutter [my wife and I have different definitions of minimal clutter when it comes to old computers, but that’s about to become a moot point {and not because of a marital breakdown, but that story must be a separate post}].)

Eight years after completing the font, I began to consider creating a Motter Tektura font, and that made me think back to my not-officially-released Silentype font – I typed up some characters and noticed OS X is now rendering “o”, “O” and “8” with filled-in counters.

So I’ll have to revise the font, and announce and release it then, but it’s available in its current form to anyone who wants it. It seems to work fine in Windows XP, and I’m not sure which version of OS X “broke” the counters, but I’m sure I’ll be able to fix it at some point. Let me know if you have any recollections about the Silentype in the comments.

One thought on “Silentype font”

Comments are closed.