Hermann Zapf

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Hermann Zapf (born November 8, 1918) is a German typeface designer who lives in Darmstadt, Germany. He is married to calligrapher and typeface designer Gudrun Zapf von Hesse.

Zapf's work, which includes Palatino and Optima, has been widely copied, often against his will. The best known example may be Monotype's Book Antiqua, which shipped with Microsoft Office and was widely considered a "knockoff" of Palatino. In 1993, Zapf resigned from ATypI (Association Typographique Internationale) over what he viewed as its hypocritical attitude toward unauthorized copying by prominent ATypI members.


Early life

Hermann Zapf was born in Nuremberg, into turbulent times, marked by the German Revolution in Munich and Berlin, the end of World War I, the exile of Kaiser Wilhelm, and the establishment of Bavaria as a free state by Kurt Eisner. In addition, the Spanish Flu Pandemic took hold of Europe in 1918 and 1919 and killed two of Zapf's siblings. Famine later struck Germany, and Zapf's mother was grateful to send him to school in 1925, where he received daily meals in a program organized by Herbert Hoover. In school, Zapf was mainly interested in technical subjects. One of his favorite books was the annual science journal Das neue Universum ("The New Universe"). He and his older brother experimented with electricity, building a crystal radio and an alarm system for his house. Even at his early age, Zapf was already getting involved with type, inventing ciphertext alphabets to exchange secret messages with his brother.

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