The genius of American designer and typographer Zuzana Licko
is that of making a virtue of necessity, as even her earliest typefaces demonstrate. They are distinctive pixel fonts, which she needed in 1985 for the third edition of her magazine Emigre
. It was to be produced using only a computer and a dot matrix printer: a sensation in ambitious graphic design. Among these fonts was the bitmap font Emigre Fourteen, a forerunner of Matrix, which was released a year later.
Matrix was constructed in 1986, following the principle of using as few interpolation points as possible
was Licko’s first entirely vectorised typeface, and was designed to use as few interpolation points as possible, so as not to overload the computer and printer. Hence the wedge serifs, which need one corner-point fewer than slab serifs, and the standard 45° angle, because it creates the smallest steps on the screen and in the dot matrix printer.
Four years later, Roger Black
and the Poynter Institute established in printing surveys that Matrix was just as readable as a Times font. The font family has since grown, and now even embraces curves, as demonstrated by the popular font Matrix Script
An early version of Matrix (bottom) on the cover of
Emigre Nº 3 in 1985