The oldest font in Windows

In the past two days I decided to go all-in on a Windows 10 installation to see what it’s capable of and how it can support my workflow. While that experience may be worth another blog post it got me thinking about what is essentially my first operating system.

When Windows first entered my life it was in the very early versions. I remember poking around through MS Dos on our old green and black monitor. What I didn’t know until recently is that the terminal typeface was actually considered a font (although an ugly one in my opinion) called Fixedsys.

Fixedsys is a family of rastermonospaced fonts. The name means fixed system, because its glyphs are monospace or fixed-width (although bolded characters are wider than non-bolded, unlike other monospace fonts such as Courier). It is the oldest font in Windows, and was the system font in Windows 1.0 and 2.0, where it was simply named “System”. For Windows 3.x, the system font was changed to a proportionalsans-serif font named System, but Fixedsys remained the default font in Notepad.


Looking at it now the fonts seems terribly dated. It’s not pretty or elegant, but back in the day it certainly did get the job done. Today I still use the terminal (at least I did on Linux before I nuked it to try Windows 100%) and one of the neat things about modern terminal apps is the ability to customize the look and feel of the terminal. You can change the font! When I do Fixedsys is not one of the choices I go to. I have no sense of nostalgia that encourages me to use this in any of my applications.

What I do instead is appreciate that our computers have evolved, and I’m grateful for the elegance we enjoy today.

Seriously, Wingdings?

My supportive wife recommended that this FontFriday be dedicated to Wingdings.

Seriously? I thought. Is that even a font?

She countered, Well, it’s been on my font list since as long as I can remember.

She’s right. It has been around a while and it’s also part of the list of items labeled as fonts that appear from the drop down menu of Microsoft Office applications. But, is it a font?

It’s true you could communicate using the symbols of Wingdings. People are using emoji to replace whole sentences. In fact, my parents speak better emoji than I do. Of course emoji isn’t the first pictorial method of communicating. Neither is Wingdings. Pictorial communication goes back as far as mankind.

Wingdings is a dingbat font. Which is a term used for a printer’s ornament. Thus Wingdings is merely a collection of printer’s ornaments. It’s not a bad collection for the 1990s when it was originally created though (again) I would venture to believe that emojis are more popular.

What’s neat about Wingdings is it isn’t just an item in your font list. It’s also a patent.

Yes, Wingdings is a patent.

USD341848S is a patent that shows a printout of each character of the font. The patent lists this font’s birth year as 1991. So my wife saying that it’s been there as long as she can remember is correct, but seriously, Wingdings?

Photo by Alexander Dummer on

Calibri & Calibri Light

For producing documents inside of Microsoft applications I will often choose Calibri or Calibri light. While I have my frustrations with Arial’s creation, Calibri is one font that Microsoft got right.

Researching Calibri is also fun. It’s got a great backstory (Wikipedia), and was even responsible for someone in Pakistan going to jail.

The Microsoft font Calibri is now a key piece of evidence in a corruption investigation surrounding Pakistan’s prime minister. Investigators noticed that documents handed over by the prime minister’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, were typed up in the font Calibri. But the documents were dated from 2006 — and Calibri wasn’t widely available at that point, making a good case that they were forged.

The Express Tribune says that Pakistan’s court-appointed investigators sent the documents off to a lab for examination. The lab noticed the discrepancy, with one of its experts saying that since “Calibri was not commercially available before 31st January 2007 … neither of the originals of the certified declarations is correctly dated and happy [sic] to have been created at some later point in time.”

The Verge

Fonts matter people. Fonts matter.

Poiret One

Sometimes people from unexpected places in the world create beautiful things.  I’m amazed at the font designers and where their work comes from.  Alegreya is from Argentina.  Caslon is an homage to British design.  Helvetica is from Switzerland.

When one thinks of the Art Deco movement one thinks of the buildings and design in the 1920s and 30s in the United States and Western Europe.  It’s amazing that while most of the movement’s artifacts are enshrined in those countries one of the greatest monuments to them in print was created by designer Denis Masharov–a native of Russia.

Sbs2-1Russia is known for some interesting architecture, but not Art Deco.  Here’s a link to a lovely post on their bus stops!

Poiret One was added to the Google Font library some time ago and is a rather popular font with served over 40 million times in the week this post was written.  It epitomizes the Art Deco movement.  And so, if you’re feeling a bit like a flapper this might just be your cup of tea.

You’re welcome to download Poiret One from the Google Font library here.