loads of couriers

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Has anyone written an article comparing all the Courier variants and Courier-inspired faces out there? Courier (Adobe, Monotype, Linotype, ParaType, E+F, and more), Dark Courier, Monospace, Nimbus Mono, FreeMono, Courier New, Courier Ragged, Hellschreiber Serif, etc.

I know what you're probably thinking. "Courier, really? That tired old hanger-on from days of an obsolete technology" etc etc. Or maybe you're like me, and are actually somewhat fond of the old workhorse.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Good question!

May I please add a couple of things that I'd like to figure out myself?
- Which version of Courier has the greatest installed base?
- Which version of Courier has the greatest installed base among people who buy expensive fonts?

hhp

Jens Kutílek's picture
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Has anyone written an article comparing all the Courier variants

Actually there is such an article: http://www.rolandstroud.com/downloads/essays/courierfonts.pdf

Which version of Courier has the greatest installed base?

My guess would be Courier New, which is a system font on Windows. This article from November 2011 gives a number of 1.25 billion Windows installations worldwide. Hard to beat that with any font ;)

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Great stuff, Jens - thanks.

And what version of Courier is the most common on (recent) OSX systems? I ask because a disproportionate percentage of font buyers are on Mac. And I have yet another evil plan... :-)

hhp

John Savard's picture
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One thing that article didn't note is that the TN print train, although it used the Courier style, varied the shapes of some of the digits for greater readability. IBM did make a Selectric element with this modified face as well, but it was an exotic product that one would have to special order.

I have prepared an image, but while the Insert Image link lets me specify one, it apparently doesn't proceed to do the download, and it definitely doesn't provide a link to the image to include in my post.

Ah. It works perfectly from IE, even if it fails as described in Firefox.

Simon Daniels's picture
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Bill Troops piece on Bud Kettler is worth a link... http://www.graphos.org/courier.html

The monospaced font "market" seems to be dominated by free, bundled and open source fonts, so I'm not sure if the best selling variant will be particularly significant.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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It is if you're making a latch-on product... :-)

hhp

John Savard's picture
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It's interesting that the ad for Courier (shown in the page on Bud Kettler) mentions that it's "long and low"; indeed, that is one of its main distinguishing characteristics. The cap height of 10 pitch Courier was about the same as that of most 12 pitch regular typewriter faces.

John Hudson's picture
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latch-on product

Courier Armenian?

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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Good guess, but no - something much more exciting. I had a waking dream about it a few days ago, and I'm still smiling.

hhp

John Savard's picture
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@John Hudson:
Courier Armenian?

Oh, that already exists; Courier AM is one of the basic fonts to install to display pages in Armenian.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Please no. :-/

hhp

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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So on OSX there's Courier and Courier New. Is either one of those [near-]identical to the Courier New on Windows? Also, is there a Courier difference between versions of Windows?

hhp

John Hudson's picture
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If you have Courier New on your Mac, there is a good chance it came with MS software, e.g. Office, and is identical to the Windows version.

Jens Kutílek's picture
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John, Courier New is a system font on Mac OS X. It’s metrically identical to the Windows system font, but there are some differences in the character set coverage.

Courier New on Windows 7 has 3248 glyphs, expanded to 3458 on Windows 8.
Courier New on Mac OS X 10.6 – 10.8 has 3151 glyphs.

These are most of the encoded glyphs that are in the Windows 8, but not in the Mac version:

The outlines are mostly also identical. MS and Apple seem to have started from the same version and added new glyphs independently.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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The outlines are mostly also identical.

So, identical color and apparent size? Cool.

hhp

Simon Daniels's picture
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>If you have Courier New on your Mac, there is a good chance it came with MS software, e.g. Office, and is identical to the Windows version

Courier New was one of the original Microsoft "core fonts for the web" so was included with Mac OS via Internet Explorer for Mac and later via a direct license. The version they currently ship is the same as the version we shipped with Windows Vista.

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Not at my Mac right now, but I noted the version of Courier I have there is 6.0d7e1, if that is meaningful in any way. I like the rounded serifs and terminals. That's the way I always envision Courier, and blunt versions seem very odd to me. I'd think that ink from impact printing at small sizes would round them off.

The Stroud article does not go into many typographical details, only practical details that writers would be concerned with.

The Mac version of Courier New doesn't have interrobang‽ That's sad.

Reynir Heiðberg Stefánsson's picture
Joined: 19 Nov 2010 - 11:15am
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Hmm... I note that there is one Courier that flies under almost everyone's radar, namely IBM's loaner to the X Consortium.

Simon Daniels's picture
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>The Mac version of Courier New doesn't have interrobang‽ That's sad.

As noted, the Windows version has it :-) please complain to Apple. I'll give them a good price.

David Berlow's picture
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"...and blunt versions seem very odd to me."

They are not correct. Most versions with square serifs are based on versions derived via early postscript stroke fonts intent on conservation of point data vs authenticity. Corners like those in a true typewriter ? would have poked the ribbon and then the paper to shreds.

The Bitstream versions of this and Prestige, available from Myfonts, are authentic, drawn from enlargements of actual IBM types.

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Who designed Apple's version of Courier? Is that licensed, or was it developed by someone in-house?

Whose version of Courier has a condensed variant? Too bad more browsers don't support font-stretch yet.

Simon Daniels's picture
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I think it was from Linotype (along with Times and Helvetica). Never seen a successful true condensed fixed pitch font. The "M" and "W" can only get so narrow.

Paul B. Cutler's picture
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OSX 10.6.8

pbc

Simon Daniels's picture
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Thanks Paul, maybe I was thinking of the PostScript core set version. Who knows? Si

Jens Kutílek's picture
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Yesterday one more version of Courier was relased:

Courier Prime, designed by Alan Dague-Greene and available under the SIL Open Font License:

http://quoteunquoteapps.com/courierprime/
http://johnaugust.com/2013/introducing-courier-prime

My only quibble with the text on the website is that it claims an advantage in favour of Courier over any other monospaced typeface with the same cpi count when it comes to screenplays:

Since the beginning, screenplays have been written in Courier. Its uniformity allows filmmakers to make handy comparisons and estimates, such as 1 page = 1 minute of screen time.

And I guess screenplays were typewritten before Courier was released ...

I haven't looked at the fonts themselves yet.

(Edit: both web sites are down at the moment, try again later)

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In case anyone is interested, Alan D-G is willing to collaborate on improvements to Courier Prime.

Charles Ellertson's picture
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And I guess screenplays were typewritten before Courier was released ...

Bet you're right, Jens. And none of my typewriters had an italic or bolds...

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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Sadly I can't believe there will be a lot of uptake for Courier Prime. But hopefully I'm wrong.

hhp

John Savard's picture
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It's true that most Windows computers already come with Courier New. However, what about Linux systems? Ah, there's already some form of Courier there as well. So I do see your point; few people will bother.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Basically my logic is that any demographic that's been content to use Courier all these years is so typographically brutish that it won't even see the difference, much less download/install anything.

* With that 1 page = 1 minute formula being purely delusional in at least three ways.

hhp

Reynir Heiðberg Stefánsson's picture
Joined: 19 Nov 2010 - 11:15am
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When you're in Deep Hack Mode, typographic niceties are about as relevant to you as a single grain of sand on the bottom of the Marianas Trench.

@quadibloc – Unix/Linux systems may well have as many as three Courier variants: Bitstream, IBM and URW.

John Savard's picture
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Well, in that case, it could well be that while few people would make the effort to download it directly. it could well end up thrown in for the next generation of Linux distros.

Oh, and here's the URL to the place hosting it:
[[http://quoteunquoteapps.com/courierprime/]]

...ah, I see that was the first URL given in the post whose second link I clicked on.

Since it's aimed at screenwriters, I take it there's a connection to the .pdf document about the history of Courier (interesting, though flawed) linked to in an earlier post.

Dan Gayle's picture
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What is the provenance of the courier 10 pitch font? I think it came with X11, but I can't remember exactly.

One thing I will say about Courier is, if you're gonna use it, no one really cares which one you use. You're never going to win anyone over, you'll never win any design awards, and no one will ever even know. (Except for the square vs round terminals thing. I suppose I'll give you points for noticing the difference there.)

Bert Vanderveen's picture
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Basically my logic is that any demographic that's been content to use Courier all these years is so typographically brutish that it won't even see the difference, much less download/install anything.

That classic scene from American Psycho comes to mind, where Christian Bale and his ‘friends’ discuss the type and stock of their business cards…
My guess is that scriptwriters sit around doing a similar thing: “How come you don’t use Courier Prime? Nobody is going to read your shit, man!” “Think again, I commissioned my own version from this type guy, and it’s dope. Producers love it.” Etc.

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Re. Courier Prime:
If someone cloned one of my type designs, advertised it as better than the original, gave it the same (trademarked) name, and distributed it with a free licence, I’d be somewhat pissed!

But wait, it’s OK because they mean well and are only targeting a market that would never buy my product?
Sorry, that argument doesn’t work in the day of internet keyword searches.

Reynir Heiðberg Stefánsson's picture
Joined: 19 Nov 2010 - 11:15am
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@Dan – Courier 10 Pitch is Bitstream's. BT donated it and Charter to the X project at the same time, as far as I can tell.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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Nick, good point. But I guess in this case everybody already has the original. I've never heard of anybody buying Courier. :-)

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture
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Right.
It seems to me that the issue here is not who profits financially, but who has the right to use a trademark.
The principles involved are trademark dilution, and protecting the public (one of the purposes of trademark law).

Dan Gayle's picture
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"IBM deliberately chose not to seek any copyright, trademark, or design patent protection on Courier, which is why it’s royalty free."

http://johnaugust.com/2013/introducing-courier-prime

FWIW

Nick Shinn's picture
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I didn’t know that.
Could have sworn I saw a trademark symbol next to it somewhere!

Simon Daniels's picture
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Maybe Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Courier_(typeface) ...

"Courier New" fonts are produced by Monotype. It has been claimed that Monotype owns the Courier trademark but there is no evidence to support this

Like everything on Wikipedia I'm sure this is completely true. ;-)

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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So what are you not allowed to do with Courier?

hhp

John Savard's picture
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I would have thought that IBM owned the Courier trademark, unless it passed to Lexmark along with the electronic typewriter business.

Of course, there is also Courier as a trademark for a line of 3270-compatible terminals, made by a direct competitor to IBM that eventually got bought by ITT...

David Berlow's picture
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Marrying Courier is illegal in most states, though I think Monotype claimed to have done so legally in Las Vegas at Comdex in 1992. That could be the source of a tm hoax. But I'm skeptical as I saw Courier earlier that year in Davos, necking with Pac-Man and flashing a huge engagement ring.

Simon Daniels's picture
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If the marriage had been legal then the divorce settlement would have likely been pretty impressive.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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Courier is a girl?!?!

hhp

John Hudson's picture
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Hrant: With that 1 page = 1 minute formula being purely delusional in at least three ways.

It's a reliable average in the US film industry.* So allows for a quick initial judgement of how long a film is likely to be based on the number of pages in a script. Of course there will be variance for individual films, particular directors, etc., but it is a useful average. When I was writing for theatre and occasionally acting, we similarly reckoned about 1.5 minutes per page of script. People didn't pull these numbers out of a delusional nowhere: they noticed over time that these correlations were common, and hence provide a useful approximation.

* I'm guessing that Bollywood, for instance, has its own average, based on the formatting of its scripts and the languages and scripts used.

John Hudson's picture
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Courier is a girl?!?!

At this age, surely a woman rather than a girl, but yes: she has rounded bits.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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But it's way too loose of an average to be useful on its own; big studios can't be that informal. In theater it's probably much more reliable.

hhp

John Hudson's picture
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As I said, it is useful in that it allows a quick initial judgement of how long a film is likely to be. In a business in which most films are expected to be between 90 minutes and two hours, that's an important first indicator of how viable a script might be.