Apple shares free 'New York' font from original Macintosh for developer use

Posted:
in General Discussion
Apple has quietly released a free, revamped version of its "New York" font, intimately familiar to anyone who used the first-generation Macintosh and many of its successors.

The enhanced version of New York.
The enhanced version of New York.


Apple is introducing ever higher resolution displays but it has always been focused on typography, right from the days of the very first Mac. Consequently New York may have become a nostalgic favorite, but it was originally a very carefully designed font that was intended for maximum clarity and readability.

Apple says that this new version does exactly the same job, just for today's monitors.

"This all-new, Apple-designed serif typeface is based on essential aspects of historical type styles," says Apple on an updated developers' page, "and is designed to work on its own as well as alongside San Francisco."

In the beginning

Neither San Francisco nor New York were the original fonts intended for the Mac. Back during the machine's earliest developments alongside the Lisa in the early 1980s, the Cream 12 font face was used. However, Cream was a font used by Xerox and Apple decided to create several of its own to make the best use of its screen technology.

While the first Mac had a limited bitmapped screen, designer Susan Kare -- best known for creating the original Mac's icons -- says it was a pleasure to work on. "It was especially enjoyable because the Macintosh was able to display proportional typefaces," she wrote on Folklore.org, "leaving behind the tyranny of monospace alphabets with their narrow m's and wide i's."

Kare had named her fonts after cities she and Mac designer Andy Hertzfeld knew in Philadelphia. Steve Jobs approved of the idea of using cities, but not these ones. "They ought to be world class cities!" he said.

San Francisco

The company's default font across Macs, iPhones, and iPads is a custom sans serif font called San Francisco, based on Helvetica Neue, Fast Company noted. Sans serifs can scale across multiple resolutions and remain readable.

Helvetica was not originally designed for screens at all, so Apple's development and refinement of its own font faces is part of what makes text look so good on Macs.

While New York and also two versions of San Francisco are now available to download for your Mac, Apple is presumably making the New York revamp public because of iOS 13. Coming this fall, that release will be the first version of iOS permitting system-wide font changes and brings "desktop class" font capabilities to Apple's Mail on iPhones and iPads.

Windows

These new fonts also work on Windows -- if you can extract them from the DMG file. Steve Jobs once famously said that without the Mac, no computers would have fonts. During his 2005 commencement speech at Stanford, he talked about dropping out and attending whatever courses he happened to like -- which included a typography one.

"If I had never dropped in on that singe course in college, the Mac would never have had multiple typefaces proportionally-spaced fonts," he said. "And since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them."

Apple's licensing terms do limit use of the font to mockups of user interfaces for iOS, macOS, tvOS, or watchOS.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,308member
    Jobs’ fascination and obsession with fonts is what made the Macintosh perfect for desktop publishing. That and Apple’s LaserWriter printer of course. And the rest is history.
    jeffharrischasmcat52cornchipStrangeDayspscooter63jony0
  • Reply 2 of 17
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 721member
    I had forgotten about New York. It is a great font. Clear and easy to read. I'm glad it's back.
    jeffharriscaladanianchasmjony0
  • Reply 3 of 17
    sphericspheric Posts: 1,786member
    Chicago all the way, baby.
    leighc-sfotyler82randominternetperson
  • Reply 4 of 17
    macguimacgui Posts: 1,456member
    Chicago was the font when I first found Macs. I love background stories like this stuff. Andy Hertzfeld had a daily short podcast years back talking about some bit of Apple and Mac trivia and how this or that came to be. Very entertaining. I hope I run across them when clearing out old, no longer used hard drives.

    I wonder if this new New York can be found for mere non-Dev mortals.
  • Reply 5 of 17
    jeffharrisjeffharris Posts: 557member
    So, when can we regular Mac users add this to our font collections?

    caladanian
  • Reply 6 of 17
    jhromerorjhromeror Posts: 46member
    Clic "the New York revamp" link, go to the bottom of the page, download and install
    So, when can we regular Mac users add this to our font collections?

    caladanianchasmfastasleepjeffharris
  • Reply 7 of 17
    tyler82tyler82 Posts: 882member
    I thought San Francisco was the ransom note font?
    myopiarocksnarwhal
  • Reply 8 of 17
    tyler82 said:
    I thought San Francisco was the ransom note font?
    You're not wrong.  I'm surprised the article didn't mention that as one of the original fonts.  The name was repurposed for a core iOS font a few versions ago however.
    myopiarocksjony0
  • Reply 9 of 17
    Sorta buried the lede if that last sentence of the article is literally true: "Apple's licensing terms do limit use of the font to mockups of user interfaces for iOS, macOS, tvOS, or watchOS."  Is Apple going to sue some kid who uses the font for his homework?  
    edited June 6
  • Reply 10 of 17
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,872administrator
    Sorta buried the lede if that last sentence of the article is literally true: "Apple's licensing terms do limit use of the font to mockups of user interfaces for iOS, macOS, tvOS, or watchOS."  Is Apple going to sue some kid who uses the font for his homework?  
    I'm sure they're not going to go after a kid for using it in homework. If it shows up on an Amazon product box, then they probably will.


    chasmStrangeDays
  • Reply 11 of 17
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,611member
    macgui said:
     I love background stories like this stuff. Andy Hertzfeld had a daily short podcast years back talking about some bit of Apple and Mac trivia and how this or that came to be. Very entertaining. I hope I run across them when clearing out old, no longer used hard drives.

    I wonder if this new New York can be found for mere non-Dev mortals.
    You are probably familiar with this site, but if not... go feast :smiley: 

    StrangeDays
  • Reply 12 of 17
    bonobobbonobob Posts: 196member
    So, when can we regular Mac users add this to our font collections?

    There's nothing stopping you from doing it now, except that pesky license agreement.
  • Reply 13 of 17
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,547member
    macgui said:
    Chicago was the font when I first found Macs. I love background stories like this stuff. Andy Hertzfeld had a daily short podcast years back talking about some bit of Apple and Mac trivia and how this or that came to be. Very entertaining. I hope I run across them when clearing out old, no longer used hard drives.

    I wonder if this new New York can be found for mere non-Dev mortals.
    If you haven't read it already, Hertzfeld's website is an amazing treasure trove of stories & comments from the people in the room:

    http://www.folklore.org

    ...the memories and stories are wonderful. There's a book version as well.
  • Reply 14 of 17
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 529member

    During his NeXT years Jobs was a regular visitor at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, mostly because he was interested in the Mach kernel being developed by Avie Tevanian and his fellow researchers at the university’s Center for Art and Technology, where I worked as a student.

    One day we had guest calligraphers who traveled all the way from Switzerland to show us the work they had done trying to translate individual letters into pixelated form so they could be legible on a bit mapped screen.  Jobs happened to be there that day and naturally he took an interest.  I think Avie was in the room too but I’m not sure.

    The Swiss calligraphers showed slides of letters that they had individually mapped pixel by pixel.  I actually think they were using MacPaint!  As they were running through their slides showing examples of their work, one of them lamented the fact that they had to recreate each letter for every single font size, which was naturally quite tedious.

    At that point Jobs interrupted their presentation by jumping up and saying, “Stop, stop!  That’s all wrong!”  He immediately grabbed the two calligraphers and walked them over to a nearby Mac that had Adobe Illustrator on it.  The Swiss were amazed as they had never seen Illustrator before.  But it kind of took the wind out of them and everything they had done up to that point.  They didn’t realize that the problem they were dealing with had already been solved.

    jeffharrisStrangeDaysdocno42
  • Reply 15 of 17
    Wikipedia has an image of the original San Francisco font, and it was not the system default:

    I remember changing the MS Word 4 "normal" template to use San Francisco on school computers just to mess with the teachers. Those were the days....

    Yes, I'm old.
    docno42narwhal
  • Reply 16 of 17
    narwhalnarwhal Posts: 10member
    tyler82 said:
    I thought San Francisco was the ransom note font?
    You're right. They probably meant to say Geneva was the sans serif font. Today's San Francisco sans serif typeface was only introduced in 2014.
  • Reply 17 of 17
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,872administrator
    Wikipedia has an image of the original San Francisco font, and it was not the system default:

    I remember changing the MS Word 4 "normal" template to use San Francisco on school computers just to mess with the teachers. Those were the days....

    Yes, I'm old.
    We didn't say San Francisco was the original system default. It is now, though.
Sign In or Register to comment.