Over the accomplished few years, I kept bumping into article alleged Hershey fonts. After digging around, I begin a 1967 government address by a adolescent alleged Dr. Allen Vincent Hershey. Aback in the 1960s, he formed as a physicist for the Naval Weapons Laboratory in Dahlgren, Virginia, belief the alternation amid address hulls and water. His analysis was aided by the Naval Ordnance Analysis Calculator (NORC), which was congenital by IBM and was one of the fastest computers in the apple aback it was aboriginal installed in 1954.
The NORC’s I/O facilities, such as punched cards, alluring tape, and band printers, were archetypal of the era. But the NORC additionally had an ultra-high-speed optical printer. This accessory had originally been developed by the telecommunications close Stromberg-Carlson for the Social Security Administration in adjustment to bound book massive amounts of abstracts anon aloft microfilm.
Perhaps you’ve heard belief of programmers cat-and-mouse impatiently for printouts from mainframe operators? Able-bodied you would accept waited alike best for your optical plots. Aback they acclimated film, they appropriate actinic processing to become photos, slides, or microfilm. But admitting this delay time, the press acceleration was abundant faster than band printers of the day: 7000 curve per minute vs 150. While this press acceleration was absolutely impressive, the adeptness to artifice absolute graphs and abstracts in aloof fractions of a additional was no agnosticism able-bodied accepted by the scientists at Dahlgren.
What fabricated this accessory so fast? It was the Charactron Tube which we covered aback in 2017. This appropriate CRT has an centralized metal awning into which a chantry is etched. The electron axle projects an absolute letter on the phosphor face of the tube in one “flash”, which in about-face exposes accurate film. No raster scanning or agent cartoon was involved, so the action was fast. But anon the arrangement would be activated in means not absurd by the aboriginal designers.
Back in those days, afore roff, LaTex, and WYSIWYG chat processors, advancing abstruse belletrist abounding of complicated algebraic equations and abstracts plots was absolutely time consuming. The argument itself would be able appliance an accustomed typewriter. But special-purpose typewriters like the Varityper were bare to typeset algebraic equations. Plots and abstracts would about be hand-drawn or by pen plotter. Hershey came to the adeptness that the NORC’s optical printer could booty on a new role and be acclimated as a typesetter. Dr Hershey not alone saw this possibility, but bedevilled a agog absorption in calligraphy and didn’t apperception spending his evenings developing this new capability.
The key to accomplish this arise was to ascertain a new approach of achievement which bypassed the centralized arrangement fonts. Rather, the blur would be apparent by appliance the aeon (full stop) arrangement as a “dot”, and affective the dot beneath affairs control. Aback activated to text, this is of advance slower than appliance the stencil, but it allows an approximate alternative of fonts, or repertories as Dr Hershey alleged them. Furthermore, it opens up the adeptness to artifice abstracts anon assimilate film, bypassing the slower pen-plotter and alike slower hand-drawing techniques of the day.
Dr Hershey abstruse that engineers at the Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey had developed a chantry for their optical printer appliance a agnate technique, abutting it from a rasterization point of view. Dr Hershey accomplished he could aggrandize this to embrace added alien and aesthetic glyphs. He focused on appliance vectors to architecture his fonts, and boarded on the diffuse adventure of researching and architecture his accumulating of vector-based fonts.
In hindsight, he not alone congenital a set of accoutrement to break the needs of the Dahlgren community, but pushed the banned of the optical actor to the extreme. In his belletrist he approved fonts not alone in English, but in added languages such as Greek, Russian, and Japanese. In accession to algebraic symbols, he showed how the actor could draw cyberbanking ambit diagrams, arch maps of the galaxy, maps in general, actinic bonds, etc. An archetype of his ability is begin in his 1967 address “Calligraphy for Computers”. Although Hershey alone implemented a subset of Japanese characters as a demonstration, he searched through over 5000 of them attractive for glyphs which ability beat the limitations of his method. He could alone acquisition one such case, which he analytic absitively to ignore:
With some blank of detail in bound spaces and some overflow in complicated cases, this admeasurement [a acme of 21 raster units] is believed to be able for all characters in Nelson’s concordance except No. 5444. Inasmuch as this appearance represents dragons in motion, it is of ambiguous utility.
All in all, Dr. Hershey generated about 1400 western and 800 Japanese glyphs, all fatigued agilely by duke on blueprint paper. There were bristles altered optical chantry sizes and three altered achievement types, not to acknowledgment all sorts of symbols acclimated in mapping, science, mathematics, etc.
Hershey was aggravating to accomplish adorable fonts for printed belletrist appliance the arch technology of the day. By far the greatest cardinal of glyphs were circuitous — that is, they were complete with assorted lines, or strokes, to accord added and capricious achievement width. These acclamation are generally depicted today as attenuate curve aback you chase for his fonts online, but aback appropriately drawn, demography into annual the admeasurement of the SC4020 beam, solid belletrist will result. Today we accept a deluge of fonts at our disposal, so why are Hershey fonts still actuality used? You ability be tempted to say because they are accessible domain. But apparently the bigger acumen is the single-stroke ancestors of fonts, which are still absolutely advantageous in so abounding altered applications. Actuality are some examples I’ve encountered over the years.
Today if you appetite to draw argument in OpenSCAD, there is congenital support. But aback I was aboriginal acquirements OpenSCAD in aboriginal 2015, this wasn’t available. A activity I was alive on bare text, so I absitively to accomplish my own. As I went bottomward the aerial breach of simple book that I could apparatus appliance the cartoon primitives of OpenSCAD, I apparent this is a address with a continued history.
It was during this analysis aback I aboriginal stumbled aloft Hershey fonts. I accept aback abstruse that these classical book styles were a antecedent of afflatus for Dr. Hershey, including the Leroy book sets acclimated by draftsmen and some banana book letterers.
At the time, I anesthetized on Hershey fonts because they alone acclimated lines, and it seemed that absolute curves would attending better. I fabricated my own agent chantry based on these simple drafting book styles which acclimated alone curve and annular arcs — things I knew how to accomplish with OpenSCAD. Attractive aback at this now, I see that argument was chip into OpenSCAD in March of that year. If I had aloof waited three months, I would’ve adored myself the time and hassle.
As a adolescent engineer, some of my company’s projects appropriate abiding advanced console markings. We fabricated these by accepting the book and symbols engraved into the console appliance a CNC machine. One well-proven way was to bite a console again ample in the grooves with adhesive paint. Today we can alike skip the altercation of apparatus block all together. Low-cost absolute laser carving provides a cleaner and generally added affordable technique. Both these methods assignment by affective the head, a milling apparatus or laser beam, forth paths which are authentic by X-Y pairs. This is a absolute fit for agent fonts. They can be fabricated added or beneath adventurous by alteration the bore of the milling apparatus or laser axle size, and can be calmly scaled or rotated as bare appliance basal trigonometry. Aggravating to do this with a bit-mapped chantry would be awkward at best.
We’ve all put argument on our PCB’s silkscreen and chestnut layers, but conceivably didn’t stop and anticipate about the details. Aback you accomplish files for manufacturing, the traces and appearance of your board, themselves artlessly vectors, are bidding in the accustomed Gerber architecture (RS-274X). Belletrist are bidding in the aforementioned way.
The aboriginal photoplotters acclimated for authoritative PCB blur artwork were fabricated by the Gerber Scentific aggregation in the 1960s. This accessory grew out of a ancestors of ample computer-controlled X-Y tables. These were originally acclimated for tasks like acid patterns from bolt and authoritative decree eyeglass lenses. The Gerber Photoplotter’s basal operation was not clashing a pen-plotter or CNC block machine, except that a axle of ablaze would flash through a selectable breach to betrayal accurate film. A caster absolute altered breach sizes accustomed you to change the band amplitude and additionally acclimated to “flash” pads. It was alone accustomed that agent commands were acclimated to ascendancy the photoplotter. Rather than reinvent the wheel, Gerber authentic a subset of the CNC agenda interface accepted RS-274D that had been about aback the 1950s. With a few extensions and revisions, this is still the architecture we use today to aback our PCB artwork to the artifact shop.
As in abounding fields, technology marches on. PCB artifact shops don’t absolutely use Gerber-style photoplotters anymore. These days, added generally than not, the architect will catechumen your Gerber files so that the artwork is transferred to blur appliance a high-resolution, accelerated raster printer. In some cases, the artwork is projected anon assimilate the PCB itself, absolutely bypassing the blur and average alteration step.
That said, I don’t anticipate we will anytime accelerate rasterized PCB artwork to the manufacturers. The appearance of the PCB that we accelerate to the shop, traces and pads, are inherently vector-like in nature. And for able results, the architect needs to analyze these appearance in adjustment to abuse them according to their own different accomplishment process. That’s the acceptation of artifact addendum like “Line, pad, and via ambit are defined as accomplished size” and “Controlled impedance traces xxxx should be 75 ohm”. Alike silk-screen book widths may charge to be adapted depending on the action actuality used. Adjusting these ambit on a raster-based image, while not impossible, would be abundant added complicated.
I bare to put some Korean argument on a PCB for a applicant awhile back. After discussing this on the KiCad appointment I abstruse that aural KiCad, the PCB book is stored internally as vectors — appliance the aboriginal Hershey chantry format. I won’t go into the bleeding details, but the aboriginal Hershey architecture is peculiar, to say the least. Hershey acclimated alone printable letters, what we could alarm printable ASCII today, to call the coordinates in actual bunched style. There is a letter-based Cartesian filigree arrangement with the letter R as zero. The letter S is 1, P is -2, etc. The letter H would arise as 508 9G]KFK[ RYFY[ RKPYP in this notation.
I was afresh arena about with Micropython on the ESP32-based TTGO module, in adjustment to agreement with argument on the tiny TFT screen. I apparent that Hacakday.io user [Russ] acclimated Hershey fonts in his Turtle Artifice Bot. This gave me a abundant jump alpha for some of my experiments, and is yet addition archetype of award Hershey fonts beneath the awning of avant-garde projects.
CRT-based projects appliance agent cartoon accept become accepted in contempo years. There are alarm projects and accepted purpose agent displays. This is yet addition appliance area anecdotic fonts with vectors matches accurately with the basal operation of the display. And you won’t be afraid to apprentice that Hershey fonts are frequently begin on these projects. For example, this tutorial by [Trammel Hudson] on agent affectation basics shows how to draw Hershey chantry belletrist on the screen.
What would Dr Hershey anticipate about his simplistic single-stroke fonts still actuality acclimated over 60 years later? Considering all the multi-stroke belletrist and Japanese symbols that he so anxiously advised by hand, he ability be a little afraid if not disappointed. Let us apperceive if you accept encountered or acclimated Hershey’s fonts in your projects. If you appetite to apprentice more, actuality is an absorbing presentation by Frank Grießhammer about Dr Hershey himself and the development of his fonts .
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