The Roots of Fronk-Ruhl in Romm-Vilna as in Time-Rodoni versus Bodoni "Classic"

gohebrew's picture

The team of Fronk, an earl;y German type designer, and Ruhl, a master punch cutter of type, came about in the early 20th century as a reaction to immense useage of the Ro9mm-Vilna typeface design used by most of literate Jewish world.

Putting the religious motives behind of most Reform German Jews and their utter distain of their Orthodox and Chassidic cousins, the popular design of Fronk-Ruhl was invented in . see and

Masterfont writes:
About this font family
Designers: Hausman
Design date: 1936

Linotype writes:
Designed by Frank+Rühl in 1936

Who was Hausman?

Of course, the version marketed by Tzika of Masterfont is not that which created in three weights by Linotype, cut in metal, and never digitized by for in PostScript/TrueType/Opentype as a scaleable outline typeface either with French bezier curves favored by Adobe, or (American) quadratic curves favored by Apple -

there are two other mathematical systems, created by Sir Dr. Sinclair of the UK, and an American Dr. Donald Knuth - each of latter pair not outlines typefaces at all. Rather, Dr. Donald Knuth, is a brilliant but more complicated system. Hence, his TeX system never became popular. Sir Dr. Sinclair made the other systems seem babyish in comparison, was greater than brilliant, and the horizontal axis by the vertical, and was the UK's answer to DOS, UNIX, the IBM PC, and the Apple. It was called the Sinclair QL (Quaturm Leap). This is another.

The original design differed, and Linotype's original designs improved upon that, too, and was digitised by FontWorld in 1993. It will appears as very advanced OpenType version, known as SuperType for use on Adobe InDesign CS 7.70 with the SuperType plug-in and SuperType script.

gohebrew's picture

Don't get me, the original design of FrankRuhl was a tremendous contribution to Hebrew type design. Linotype created three weights of FrankRuhl by a then young Mat Carter, instilling genius into genius. When I met with Linotype's head of type in Germany, at their US headquarters, I was shown his magnificent drawings from decades earlier.

If Tzvika had them, he could make three new faces. I however created them for private use in 1993. I will post samples of them, for Tzvika and Boruch G., my friend, to drool over. :)

These Hebrew faces were the result of Mat's brilliant work on Times-Roman, as I explain shortly.

The head German type man, flown in at the expense of Linotype Germany showed me a special one of a kind poster. It showed Times-Romans in three weights or sizes, but at 144 point type. The most radical differences were in the w and the m. The W and M each have three vertical strokes, very close to each other. Mat redrew them farther apart at the three different sizes. So, the w or m at 6 point differed radically at 12 and 18 point etc.

Even Adobe's Multiple Master technology could not address Mat's idea. After I digitized his version of FrankRuhl, I saw that Mat introduced this idea to the Hebrew world of type. But OpenType, either in Microsoft's graphical VOLT software, or in the more advanced Adobe DOS-like FDK, could not support Mat's idea.

So, together with Scott-Martin K., an outstanding substitute for Mat :), I decided to introduce SuperType, a quantum leap, like the short-lived QL was to Apple Macintosh, IBM PC (remember that Boruch?), and even UNIX the aging dino.

The QL had a UNIX-like OS, called Q-DOS, a easy to use interface, called Super-Basic, and hid the CPU in the fat keyboard, that had two (shitty) tiny tape drives too. Steve Jobs trembled - Oh no, Sir Sinclair ripped everyone off. Sir S. even invented a new type technolgy that to this day I can't understand yet...Scott, how did Sinclair do it. Clive, if you read this, email me a lesson in what you did.

Getting back to SuperType, it is basically OpenType II, and is compatible with Adobe InDesign CS 7 and higher, and MS Word 2000 and higher in a truncated way.

SuperType takes the best of VOLT, FDK, is written in Python by those guys who brought you RoboFont. Hi!

Basically, a font created in SuperType, or ST, automatically applies all rules of Hebrew grammar (yes, David, all), plus causes letters to have different dimensions at different sizes.

Hence, one FrankRuhl font will appear differently at 6 point, 9 and 10 point, 12 point, 14 point, 18 point, and so up.

Also, Romm-Vilna, and Romm-Rashi, also appear differently at different point sizes.

For the first time in history, the entire Bible will appear with shva-na, komatz katan, and various different metegs. Furthermore, they will have an important commentary, called DASH (Dikdukei Shlomo), explain to Jewish child the rules of Hebrew in simple and easy to understand explanations, just Rabbi Adin (Steinsaltz) Even-Israel, and Rabbi Dr. Twersky, did in their great books.

quadibloc's picture

Rather, Dr. Donald Knuth, is a brilliant but more complicated system. Hence, his TeX system never became popular.

Actually, TeX is quite popular, but you're right that the original Metafont never became popular. But it wasn't so much because it was complicated, as because it specified typefaces by the movements of an imaginary pen rather than their outlines. Thus, it was suited to the creation of original typefaces, but not to digitization of existing typefaces.

hrant's picture

Emulating a pen also caused something undesirable: butt-ugliness.


quadibloc's picture

The original Computer Modern font, useful as it may have been to get mathematical papers into some sort of printed form cheaply by computer, was indeed a failure by typographical standards.

But part of that was simply because Donald Knuth wasn't a professional type designer. Metafont may well have been an adequate, if limited, tool to design some categories of typeface - imitation Carolingian hands, blackletter, uncials, calligraphic faces, and so on and so forth.

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