The Electronic Labyrinth

Random Fonts

Random fonts, a term coined by Erik van Blokland and Just van Rossum, are a special class of font in which a character will appear differently each time it is printed or displayed. Van Blokland and van Rossum designed "Beowolf," the first "randomfont." "Beowolf" resembles Times Roman and mimics the individual characteristics of battered lead type. The degree of difference is scalable and identifies Beowolf versions 21, 22, and 23.

Random technology is the term used to describe the programming for random fonts. This technique lets "the rasterizer behave randomly within the boundaries of legibility" (van Blokland and van Rossum). Random technology may be considered as an extension of the non-linearity of hypertext to typography. Just as it is possible for a hypertext to read differently each time it is opened, each individual character in a randomfont appears differently each time it is printed. Random technology is one of the first instances of the movement towards intelligent fonts.

© 1993-2000 Christopher Keep, Tim McLaughlin, Robin Parmar.
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