Demos was one of the first digital typefaces.* In the Digiset, a composing
machine manufactured by Dr.-Ing Rudolf Hell GmbH of Kiel, Germany, letters
were formed by a cathode ray tube and were built up of fairly coarse pixels.
Photosetting was then still an imperfect technology and Demos was designed
to resist distortion such as rounding of corners during the photographic
process. Experiments with counters (see M.O.L.) were carried further with
this design. At the same time I was experimenting with making larger and
smaller letters from the same original design. Punchcutters used to adjust
each size of a letterpress typeface separately by eye. In Demos there
is relatively little difference between thick vertical and thin horizontal
parts, which facilitates linear enlargement and reduction because it makes
types in small sizes less prone to distortion. In 2001 Demos was redigitised
and further refined for use by the German government.
* The first fully digital typeface was Hermann Zapf’s
Marconi. Like Demos, it was built up of pixels. In 1976 the Hell company
started using a program called Ikarus (1974) written by Dr Peter Karow
to produce digital outlines of letters.
Unger, G., ‘The Design of a Typeface’, in Visible Language,
Vol. XIII, No. 2, Cleveland, 1979