Optixal – New font!

By far one of the worst things about being an adult is having to pay bills–and the absolute worst type of bill is taxes. Despite my best efforts and the hours of time I spend checking and double checking, it seems like I get a letter from the IRS every single year telling me how I miscalculated something and all the extra money I owe. One of these years I’ll figure it out! (… Not. I’m terrible at math.)

Anyway, this past September as I was staringĀ at the address needed to mail my hard-earned money to the government, I noticed that it was printed in OCR-A (or something close to it).

OCR (Optical Character Recognition) fonts are designed to be machine-readable, so characters that may normally look similar are given forms that make them easier for machines to differentiate. For instance: the characters I, l and 1 that are often difficult to distinguish are all designed to be quite different in OCR fonts.

Nowadays OCR technology is much better and works with more natural-looking characters, but the distinctive style of OCR-A (which was designed in 1968, wow!) has a nice retro-technology feel to it that I thought would be fun to emulate in miniature.

I wonder if the fact that this is a pixel font would make it easier or harder for machines to read? Then again, the technology’s probably gotten far enough along that it doesn’t really make much of a difference.

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