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  • Celtic cross, finger pointing, Star of David does the Wingdings font exist? How many people

  • are sending crucial interoffice memos that chronicle the saga of a mailbox? It turns

  • out that Wingdings has a purposeand a historythat ties back to the very beginning

  • of printing. Printing wasn’t always typing. It involved manually setting every letter,

  • and every word, and every line on every page. Just printing text was a tedious process.

  • Pretty text was a whole different matter. So printers invented a shortcut. Enter the

  • dingbat. Dingbats were ornamental pieces that could

  • transform any page from plain to ornate. Instead of making an new piece of type, slotting

  • in a dingbat decorated text efficiently.

  • We don’t know where the name came from - it might be from the Dutch word forthing”,

  • or maybe it’s just what a piece of type sounds like when it hits the floor. But we

  • do know the purposesaving time, beautifully. And those same limitations brought dingbats

  • to the modern era. You might recognize typographer Hermann Zapf

  • from Zapfino, the gorgeous calligraphic typeface that’s showed up on a lot of computers.

  • He was a bridge between the old and newhe embraced computers, but was such a talented

  • calligrapher that Hallmark made an entire movie about him in

  • 1967 just to watch him write. That sense of history and embrace of change

  • led him to make Zapf Dingbats, a classic dingbat font designed in the late 70s. Just as printers

  • wanted to save time using dingbats, a generation of computer typographers saved time with dingbat fonts.

  • His proteges, Charles Bigelow and Kris Holmes,

  • were inspired by him when they created their own digital dingbat font, Lucida Icons, Stars,

  • and Arrows. Microsoft bought the rights and called them

  • Wingdings, combining Windows, Dingbats, and the party-like feel of a “wingding.”

  • But people missed the point from the beginning.

  • In 1992, the New York Post freaked out because typing NYC in Wingdings

  • spelled what looked like an anti-semitic message (they changed it to I Heart NY in Webdings).

  • Conspiracy theorists had a new toy. But Wingdings was never intended to be typed.

  • Just like Dingbats, it was meant to save time, in an age when pictures were

  • hard to make. Wingdings was, in a way, before its time.

  • It was the offline predecessor of the emoji — a way to send messages quickly, using

  • pictures. And in that way, it endures.

  • And that is capital C C C.

  • I wanted to know what Charles Bigelow's favorite Wingdings were. So I asked him. And he said he was

  • partial to these fleurons. They're the flowery dingbats that you see here.

  • And he said that these were inspired, at least in part, by some real flowers that were growing in his

  • and Kris Holmes's garden the summer they designed what would become Wingdings.

Celtic cross, finger pointing, Star of David does the Wingdings font exist? How many people

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