There are dozens of thousands of Chinese characters, however, and a 5 by 7 grid was too small to be readable. The Chinese language required a grid of 16 x 16 or more, ie at least 32 bytes of reminiscence (256 bits) per character. If one imagines a font with 70,000 low-resolution Chinese characters, the total requirement for reminiscences would exceed two megabytes. Even a font containing only 8,000 of the most common Chinese characters would take around 256 kilobytes to transfer the bitmaps. That was 4 times the total storage capacity of most business PCs in the early 1980s.
As severe as these memory problems were, the most important problems in the production of low-resolution Chinese fonts in the 1970s and 1980s were aesthetics and design. Long before anyone looked at a program like Gridmaster, the lion’s share of pen, paper, and correction fluid was done outside of the PC.
For years, designers have tried to create bitmaps that satisfy the call for low throwback and retain a minimum of calligraphic grandeur. Lily Huan-Ming Ling (凌焕銘) and Ellen Di Giovanni were among those who created this character set, be it through hand-drawn bitmaps for safe Chinese characters or through digitization with Gridmaster.
The main disadvantage designers faced was the translation between two radically completely different spellings for the Chinese language: the hand-drawn character, which was created with a pen or brush, and the bitmap glyph, which was created with a collection of pixels that are referred to as “have” are organized on two axes. Designers had to clarify how (and if) to attempt to restore safe handwritten Chinese language spelling options according to the input bar, bar taper, and exit bar.
For the Sinotype III font, the method of designing and digitizing low-resolution bitmaps has been fully documented in Chinese. One of the fascinating archive sources from this period is a folder full of grids with hand-drawn diamond characters – sketches that were later digitized into bitmaps for many thousands of Chinese characters. Each of these characters was rigorously laid out and essentially half edited by Louis Rosenblum and GARF, using correction fluid to erase any “bits” the editor disapproved of. Above the preliminary set of inexperienced diamonds, a second set of pink diamonds then marks the “final” design. Only then did the information gathering work begin.
Given the sheer variety of bitmaps required to design – at least 3,000 (and ideally many more) if the machine were to serve the customer – one might assume that designers were looking for ways to streamline their work. For example, one technique for doing this would have been to duplicate Chinese language radicals – the essential parts of a personality – after appearing in roughly the same position, dimension, and alignment from one sign to another. In creating the many dozen common Chinese characters, including the “lady’s radical” (女), the GARF staff can (and will) have created a typical bitmap and then replicated it in every character in which that radical appears.
Even so, since the archive is there, no such mechanistic decisions have been made. On the contrary, Louis Rosenblum insisted that designers regulate each of these parts – usually using practically imperceptible methods – to ensure that they matched the general character in which they appeared.
Within the bitmaps for Juan (娟, swish) and mian For example (娩 to ship) – each of them contains the girl’s radical – that radical has been modified very little. Within the determine JuanThe center of a portion of the lady’s bike occupies a horizontal span of six pixels compared to five pixels within the destination mian. At the same time, however, the decrease curve of the ladies’ bike is only extended one pixel further outwards within the determination mianand in character Juan This line does not lengthen in any way.
Throughout Scripture, this accuracy has been the rule rather than the exception.
After evaluating the drafts of bitmap drawings with their final shapes, we see that additional adjustments have been made. In the design model of luo (罗, gather, CommunityFrom the bottom left, for example, the hub protrudes downwards at an ideal 45 ° angle, earlier than the digitized model of a rash. In the last model, however, the curve was “flattened”, starting at 45 °, but then leveling it again.
Regardless of the seemingly small house designers, they had to make an amazing variety of decisions. And each of those decisions influenced every other decision they made for a chosen character, as the inclusion of just one pixel usually changed the overall horizontal and vertical stability.
The unforgiving dimension of the grid influenced the designers’ work in several surprising ways. We see this most clearly in the diabolical downside of achieving symmetry. Symmetrical layouts, rich in Chinese characters, have been particularly difficult to label in low-resolution systems, as creating symmetry according to the fundamentals of arithmetic requires spatial zones of strange dimensions. Bitmap grids with uniform dimensions (just like the 16 x 16 grid) made symmetry unimaginable. In many cases, GARF has managed to achieve symmetry by using only part of the entire grid: just a 15 x 15 space within the entire 16 x 16 grid. This further reduced the usable space.
The story gets a lot more advanced as we begin to evaluate the bitmap fonts created by completely different companies or creators for different initiatives. Think of the water radical (氵) because it is used in the Sinotype III script (back and right) compared to another early Chinese script used by HC Tien (left), a Sino-American psychotherapist and entrepreneur who experimented with Chinese language processing originated in the 1970s and 1980s.
Since the above examples may seem so insignificant, each represented an additional selection (among thousands) that the GARF design staff had to make, be it in the entire design area or in the digitization area.
After all, the low decision did not last long “low”. Advances in knowledge processing have resulted in ever denser bitmaps, ever faster processing speeds, and ever lower storage prices. In today’s age of 4K decisions, retina shows, and more, it can be difficult to understand the talents – both aesthetic and technical – that went into creating early Chinese bitmap fonts, even though they were limited. However, it was such an answer to the problem that computer systems, new media, and the Web eventually made accessible to a sixth of the world’s population.