In 1983, Zapf had completed the typeface AMS Euler with Donald Knuth and David Siegel of Stanford University for the American Mathematical Society, a typeface for mathematical composition including fraktur and Greek letters. David Siegel had recently finished his studies at Stanford and was interested in entering the field of typography. He told Zapf his idea of making a typeface with a large number of glyph variations; he wanted to start with an example of Zapf’s calligraphy that was reproduced in a publication by the Society of Typographical Arts in Chicago.
Zapf was concerned that this was the wrong way to go, and while he was interested in creating a complicated program, he was worried about starting something new. However, Zapf remembered a page of calligraphy from his sketchbook from 1944, and considered the possibility of making a typeface from it. He had previously tried to create a calligraphic typeface for Stempel in 1948, but hot metal composition was too limiting on the freedom of swash characters.
Such a result could only be achieved using modern digital technology, and so Zapf and Siegel began work on the complicated software necessary. Siegel also hired Gino Lee, a type designer from Boston, Massachusetts, to render the extensive character set. (The “ino” in “Zapfino” refers to Gino.)
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