Calligraphy and Steve Jobs

Who don’t know this guy?

I found another extract (read the paragraphs here after) from a commencement speech at Stanford University gave by him in 2005. What is interesting for some of us, with strong conection in typography, is that Mr Jobs also practised this art at some point. I must add that Sumner Stone, who was the Director of typography at Adobe (1984-87) came also from the same place… the Reed College, and same calligraphy classes by Lloyds Reynolds: “you’ve got a million bad letters in your fist, and the only way to get rid of them is to write them down.” Coincidence?

Steve Jobs extract from his commencement speech:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer was beautifully hand-calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and sans-serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me, and we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts, and since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them.

If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on that calligraphy class and personals computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do.

Jean François Porchez, 1 February 2007

typographie, design, typofonderie, , , , , , ,