The manager of the London daily newspaper The Times
, William Lints-Smith
, had heard that the respected typographer Stanley Morison
(40) was unimpressed by the print quality of his newspaper. On 1 August 1929, they could be found sitting opposite each other at the publishing offices, discussing a redesign of the paper.
Morison, who had been artistic advisor to the typesetting equipment manufacturer Monotype
for the previous six years, impressed the newspaperman with his arguments, and on the spur of the moment Lints-Smith offered him a job as an advisor. The first conflict of wills arose when Morison announced that the period after “Times” in the newspaper’s nameplate would not survive his redesign. Lints-Smith consulted with the publishers and, a week later, gave his consent.
The Times through the years:
1: The first edition, published on 1 January 1788, set (partly) in Caslon
2: Before the redesign: black-letter type and a full stop after “Times”
3: Introduction of Times New Roman by Stanley Morison on 3 October 1932
4: Claritas typeface in the 23 April 1953 edition
5: Times Modern by Luke Prowse, in use since 20 November 2006
Towards the end of 1930, after fruitless experiments with the printing machines, Morison decided that the newspaper needed a new typeface of its own
. In January 1931 he presented two drafts: a reworked Perpetua and a modernised Plantin. A group of experts decided on the latter, which soon became famous across the world as “Times New Roman” and replaced its predecessor “Times Old Roman”.
The Times draughtsman Victor Lardent
created a first version of the new font on the basis of Morison’s specifications. Specialists at Monotype then revised the draft for engraving and casting. The Times edition of 3 October 1932 was the first to be published in the new font, initially for one year’s exclusive use. Monotype then licensed its Times for Linotype
line-casting machines. The first book set in Times was published in 1934, and in the USA the magazines Time, Life and Fortune switched to the successful new typeface.
New printing machines and better varieties of paper led in the early 1950s to Times’ London name-giver abandoning the font. But it enjoyed a renaissance in the 1980s thanks to the invention of the laser printer, which incorporated it in a digitised form on a memory chip. Together with web browsers and word processing programs, the operating systems Windows and Mac-OS – which include Times New Roman – sustained the font’s profile over many years. And the U.S. State Department
recently secured its continued survival by deciding in early 2004 that all diplomatic documents in future must be set in 14-point Times rather than 12-point Courier.