The monospace font of choice in Colombia

Not sure what caused it, but it looks like Lekton became all of a sudden extremely popular in Colombia. It’s now up at 18 million views from the Google Web Fonts directory, most of them coming from South America.


This and the next few posts are overviews of our work in progress around the Korean way to compose vowels and consonants in a given space. We hope that this can motivate someone into help us developing the next version of Lekton.

Writing and numeracy tools for all world languages

The history of Olivetti got virtually complete within a century, but are still worth mention the specialized activities of the Characters Department, which drew up the tools of literacy and numeracy that have characterized the communications throughout the last century.

In the '60 Olivetti's factories were pretty everywhere, with over 120,000 employees all over the world.
That's why Olivetti started producing tools for writing and calculation serving countries far away and with very different cultures.
Before starting the manufacturing process, each language was carefully studied in order to successfully transfer the different signs and their use in the mechanical design of the instrument.
Today this activity is annulled by the global size of the Group, the fact remains that a great work has been done on the side of the dissemination of media.

We found out that, among others, a Korean type system has been developed by Olivetti's Characters Department. It was intended to work overlapping vowels and consonants, but still keeping the fixed-width system.

About the korean type system

It was created in the mid-15th century, and is now the official script of both North Korea and South Korea. It is a phonemic alphabet organized into syllabic blocks, which are written horizontally from left to right and vertically from top to bottom.
Each block consists of at least two of the 24 Hangul letters (40 with diphthongs and double consonants), with at least one each of the 14 simple consonants and 10 monophthongs vowels.

Vowels: 10 monophthongs + (11 diphthongs)

Consonants: 14 simple + (5 double)
Vowels are built from vertical or horizontal lines so that they are easily distinguishable from consonants. Consonants are based on the shape of the mouth and tongue in the production of that sound (labial, coronal, velar, or glottal), sometimes with extra marks showing features such as plosive, nasal, sibilant or aspiration.
The placement of a unit (vowel or consonant) in the block follows set patterns based on the shape of the medial.
Medials are written under the initial, to the right, or wrap around the initial from bottom to right, depending on their shape: if the medial has a horizontal axis like ㅡ, then it is written under the initial; if it has a vertical axis like ㅣ, then it is written to the right of the initial; and if it combines both orientations, like ㅢ ui, then it wraps around the initial from the bottom to the right (first line in the picture).
A final unit, if there is one, is always written at the bottom, under the medial (second line in the picture).
A complex final is written left to right (last line in the picture).

(I) initial (M) medial (F) final
We believe that the basis for the reproductions that follow were taken directly from the Olivetti's archive. We'll just post pieces of them not to infringe reserved rights.
The pictures were taken at the exposition at "Politecnico di Torino" on May 2010, during Thype!, a workshop hosted by Nicolò Brusa, Francesco Carletto and Matteo Pont.

The first table showed the typing sequence for the composition of the graphic syllables.

The mechanism was better illustrated in the second table where each key of the keyboard refers to a unit, and actioning levers determines where to place units, this to compose each graphic syllable. Keys in blue are showing the arrangement of the vowels, grouped on the left to maintain high the usability.

Mixed Korean keyboard