In classic times capital letters the only letters in use
were drawn with a slate pencil and incised with a chisel.
No doubt their form was intimately associated with
these tools. Lower case developed in the early Middle
Ages from the use of the pen, and therefore inherits the
characteristics of handwriting. Later, both alphabets
adapted themselves, and we observe in all types up to
the present the characteristic basic element of the thin
up-stroke and the thick down-stroke.
These characteristics have preserved themselves up to
this day. But do we need such a pretence of precedent
at a time when 90 per cent, of all that is read is either
written on a typewriter or printed on a printing press,
when handwriting plays only such a secondary role,
and when type could be much simpler and more con
sistent in form.
Hence the requirements of a new alphabet are as
Geometric foundation of each letter, resulting in a syn
thetic construction out of a few basic elements. Avoid
ance of all suggestion of a hand-written character.
Even thickness of all parts of the letter, and renumera-
tion of all suggestions of up and down strokes.
Simplification of form for the sake of legibility the
simpler the optical appearance the easier the compre
A basic form which will suffice for diverse applications
so that the same character is adaptable for various
functions printing, typewriting, hand and stencil
These considerations will explain the following
attempt to design a new type.
development oe the form of the letter "a"
3. and 4. Rower case of the time of Charlemagne
5. "a" in the Grotesque of to-day, a reintroduction of the pure form
6. First reduction, a conservation of the character of handwriting
7. Most exact form
8. Latest Development
Universal type, Herbert Bayer, 1925 improved 1928.
universal type, Herbert Bayer. Bold Wide. Characters at foot
show Bold, Medium and Light weights.
universal type, Herbert Bayer. Condensed Bold. Characters at
end of bottom line show Medium and Light weights.
The few basic elements from which the type is built upVertical,
242 Horizontal, a few Arcs, three Angles.