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Bell Centennial

Bell Centennial

On the occasion of its 100th birthday, the American telephone company AT&T (formerly Bell Telephone Company) treated itself to a reworking of its telephone directory typeface Bell Gothic. Matthew Carter designed the subtle Bell Centennial in 1978, and dramatically improved the readability of the directories. Strong incisions and large counters ensured that the characters survived high-speed printing on poor quality paper intact. With two new fonts, Carter was able to refine the hierarchy of names and numbers.



The upper case font Bold Listing proved to be a money-maker, with business customers more than happy to pay an additional fee to have their name printed in more striking type. Carter simply positioned the bold uppercase characters so that they began below the baseline, where they occupied the space otherwise taken by descenders.
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