Identify this teletype font from Andromeda Stain?
June 21, 2007 2:15 PM   Subscribe

FontFilter: Can anyone identify the source for this font from Andromeda Strain?

It seems one of the early printings of the book Andromeda Strain had teletype style medical reports printed in the book in a different font. It appears that current printings of the book don't use this font.

I suspect it's some sort of teletype or typewriter wheel / ball that was used, but I'm curious if anyone knows for sure. I don't expect a computer font facsimile would exist but that would be a nice bonus.

Here's an example from the screenplay for the movie with the teletype style font above and regular courier below:

Picture link (488k,

Alternate picture link (488k,

Thanks for your help.
posted by sharkfu to Writing & Language (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I've had good luck identifying fonts with What the Font.
posted by aught at 2:17 PM on June 21, 2007

Best answer: Looked familiar...It's in the "OCR-A" family. Identifont link
posted by omnidrew at 2:26 PM on June 21, 2007

Looks like OCR-A to me.
posted by marionnette en chaussette at 2:28 PM on June 21, 2007

I see I'm too slow - but it's OCR-A.

OCR-A typewriter balls were and are available. The purpose of this font was to facilitate OCR on the output text, back when documents were not routinely created on computers and yet it was occasionally useful to have document text available in electronic format. (Capital 'O' is a diamond, numeral zero is a rectangle, etc.) Obviously today, if you're creating the document, you already have an electronic copy, so there's no need to print it out in an OCR-compatible font. A true historical relic.
posted by jellicle at 2:51 PM on June 21, 2007

Too slow here too, didn't see the post until just now. But it's definitely OCR A.

It's still used for UPC codes though, so it's not a historical relic.
posted by miss lynnster at 4:00 PM on June 21, 2007

As you suspected, OCR typewriter elements were available for the Selectric. This was probably just a matter of the typist switching out the ball for typing those few lines that needed to look like a medical document. (It also looks like there were some ad-hoc line adjustments for THROMBIN and THROMBOPLASTIN at least.)

By the way, the movie had several examples of "futuristic" typography, including Microgramma Bold Extended (later to be seen in director Wise's Star Trek: The Motion Picture) and an MICR variant. Trailer. The main title uses a face like OCR-A, except for the S, which seems to have been borrowed from Fraktur Gothic. Hmmm.

Still the movie that most scared the crap out of me as a kid.
posted by dhartung at 8:39 PM on June 21, 2007

I have a paperback edition of "The Andromeda Strain" with all the original graphics and typefaces. I didn't know they'd stopped printing it that way. I'll start treating that paperback really well.
posted by lhauser at 10:07 PM on June 21, 2007

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