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Adobe & Apple & Ted & Alice

As if the recent pendulum-like events in the Soviet Union weren’t confusing enough, Apple and Adobe, the on-again, off-again adversaries in the type wars, have announced that they’ve signed a letter of intent that calls for the inclusion of Adobe Type 1 font technology within a future version of System 7.

Apple’s 20 August press release states that the rasterizer technology that has been sold as Adobe Type Manager since October of 1989 will soon be incorporated into the Macintosh system software. Not surprisingly, Apple plans to continue to support the TrueType format, which should engender a sigh of relief from the font vendors who have devoted the last year or so to creating TrueType product lines to go alongside their Type 1 lines.

The inclusion of Adobe technology in Apple’s system software means that users will have equal access to both common font formats when using their Macs and their favorite software, according to Charles Geschke, Adobe’s president and chief operating officer. The press release doesn’t mention Adobe CEO John Warnock, whose adversarial approach to the issue of separate font technologies fueled the "font wars" that we’ve been watching over the last couple of years.

"Implementation of the letter of intent is contingent on the execution of definitive contracts," the press release says, but is carefully vague on the subject of just when we can expect to see Type 1 rasterizing within System 7. Of more immediate interest is the statement that Apple plans to make the ATM software and a core set of Type 1 fonts available to purchasers of Macintosh systems and Apple printers in the meantime, through an "interim offer," which will be available in the Fall of 1991.

Adobe Type Manager is already available very inexpensively in several ways. The software itself (with its four included font families) is available from dealers and mail-order houses for about $60, but it’s also available bundled along with an increasing number of graphics and font technology products, such as Adobe’s Type On Call CD-ROM, PhotoShop, and Illustrator, and third party products such as the FontCard NTX from Sonnet Technologies, the Kodak Diconix M150 Plus printer, and the assorted CD-ROM drive bundles that also include Type On Call. The FontCard NTX is probably the most interesting of those; more on that later. It’s certainly nice, though, to hear that the same technology will be made available to users in a less-expensive, better-integrated manner.

This is the kind of technological cooperation that can only benefit the end user. There’s little danger that Adobe, the leader in electronic font technology, will stop working on its planned innovations, such as the FontMaster technology that promises automatic font weighting as simply as Type 1 fonts provide font scaling. On the contrary, this agreement should boost Adobe’s position in the font arena and give it the motivation to keep moving. The concern? Despite Apple’s promise to continue its support for TrueType, it’s clear that the company has lost some of its enthusiasm for TrueType as the be-all and end-all of font technologies. What will TrueType partner Microsoft think about all this? If we find out, we’ll be sure to let you know.

Information from:
Apple press release

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