Can you identify these classic Infocom fonts?
July 9, 2012 2:54 AM   Subscribe

What are the fonts used in these iconic Infocom ads: 1 2? I'm particularly interested in the 'Many are the doors...' font and the 'Apple II...' font from 1, and the 'WE'RE WRITING' font from the second. I can find stuff that's close with WTF et al, but not the same.
posted by obiwanwasabi to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: According to What The Font, the second example seems to be Futura Extra Black Condensed; the first is a little more tricky...
posted by segatakai at 3:07 AM on July 9, 2012

um, yeah, for the first one it looks like you're gonna need someone who actually knows what they're talking about...
posted by segatakai at 3:09 AM on July 9, 2012

Best answer: For the first font I got Berle Bold, using WTF and a good scan of the Zork box art. It looks like a perfect match.
posted by reynaert at 4:39 AM on July 9, 2012

Err, "Belwe Bold". Silly font names...
posted by reynaert at 4:40 AM on July 9, 2012

Yes, that's definitely Belwe Bold. It was the go-to fantasy font of the 80s.
posted by apparently at 5:51 AM on July 9, 2012

Response by poster: Belwe Bold is seriously close (especially the lower-case G), but I'm not convinced that's it (or at least, it's not vanilla Belwe Bold):

- Belwe Bold has a serif on the bottom of the lower-case P, and on the right of the lower-case R, which the Zork font doesn't have;

- the serif at the start of the lower-case A is much more distinct, as are the serifs generally - the Zork font serifs are softer, more rounded.

If I go here, click Playbox and enter 'The next step downward to danger', the result is noticeably different to reynaert's scan - see the serif on the stem of the lower-case H, for example - it's left-side only in the box scan, but extends both signs in Belwe.

Perhaps they used Belwe and tinkered with it?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:04 AM on July 9, 2012

Response by poster: Both sides, even.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:05 AM on July 9, 2012

Perhaps they used Belwe and tinkered with it?

This. Very common. Still done today, all the time.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:07 AM on July 9, 2012

Best answer: Keep in mind too that many foundries, whether analog or digital, produced their own versions of typefaces, and that there were often significant differences in letterforms between sizes. The absence of a serif on the descender of the 'p' seems likely to be a tweak by the designers (India ink on the film, perhaps), but the more systematic differences, e.g. in serif shape and orientation, might be due to the fact that it was the Linotype version of Belwe Bold. Georg Belwe designed the Belwe family in 1913, so it has long been out of copyright.
posted by brianogilvie at 7:17 AM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

To clarify: Linotype was an example of a particular foundry; I don't know whether Infocom used Linotype's version or even whether Linotype had a version of Belwe in the early '80s.
posted by brianogilvie at 7:20 AM on July 9, 2012

brianogilvie is on target. Also keep in mind that digital versions of typefaces are often different than their metal, wood, or film predecessors because the design was changed in the digitization process.
posted by Typographica at 1:30 PM on July 9, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks all (and sorry for the delay - on holiday!)
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:21 PM on July 16, 2012

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