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TrueType is an outline font standard originally developed by Apple Computer in the late 1980s as a competitor to Adobe's Type 1 fonts used in PostScript. TrueType has become the most common format for fonts on both the Mac OS and Microsoft Windows operating systems.

The primary strength of TrueType was originally that it offered font developers a high degree of control over precisely how their fonts are displayed, right down to particular pixels, at various font sizes. With widely varying rendering technologies in use today, pixel-level control is no longer certain in a TrueType font.




On the Macintosh, fonts were originally stored in hand-tuned bitmap font files that specified individual pixel locations for a font at a particular size. If the user wanted to see a font at another size, the Font Manager would find the closest match and apply a basic scaling algorithm. When scaled to large sizes the algorithm was of limited use, with the output becoming blocky.

In contrast, printer fonts for the popular Apple LaserWriter were based on PostScript Type 1 outlines, resulting in excellent output at any size. Outline fonts have a set of drawing instructions for lines and curves to create a shape for each character (a "glyph"). By following the drawing instructions, the computer creates an "outline" shape at a specific size, and then "fills" it with ink (e.g., black) to create the character. Glyphs scale to any size, and are independent of the resolution of the screen or printer. It produces the same quality whether it's printing to film, drawing on a screen, or printing a billboard. This technology was the key invention that the founders of Adobe Systems engineered and marketed as PostScript. Making matters difficult was the fact that Type 1 fonts were encrypted, and Adobe made a considerable amount of their income from licensing the format to interested parties. They were not about to simply allow Apple to include the software for free.

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