Flexi IBM VGA Font: a Scalable Take on Text Mode

The VGA ROM font has to be the most recognizable text-mode character set, whether you spent the 1990s as an ANSI artist or as a POS cashier.  Naturally it's all bitmap, but I've seen a few attempts to shape it into a truly scalable font, with a 'smart' contoured outline that would theoretically look good at any size.  For instance, there's Nouveau IBM (previously used for titles on this blog) or Codepage Mono.

This one here takes a different approach, derived partially from the xBRZ scaler.  That gives it more of a 'rounded' look, but even so (IMO, YMMV, etc.) the perceptual form of the glyphs is closer to the original than other attempts.  The font was already pretty much finished last year, when I put it up on VOGONS as a 'beta' release, but there wasn't much to add to it... so here it is for your arguable enjoyment.

Two variants are included, 'True' and 'False': 'True' is aspect-corrected to match the appearance of a good old 4:3 VGA monitor.  The default VGA text mode has a resolution of 720x400, and at 4:3 this produces pixels that are far from square: (400/3)/(720/4) = 0.740740....  For simplicity's sake I rounded that to 0.75, meaning that the character cell is really 3/4 the width of a 'na├»ve' square-pixel representation.

Flexi IBM VGA9 Font Specimen

The 'False'-aspect variant does keep to the square-pixel assumption.  Which isn't true to the original look, but some may like that appearance or even be used to it.  At a text size of 16px, it has the effect of sticking to the 1:1 pixel representation but with an added anti-aliasing (depending on the font renderer).

Flexi IBM VGA9 False Aspect

Each of those two variants also comes in two encodings:

  • The unmarked file covers a wide selection of characters, mostly based on various code-pages from DOS (including Greek, Hebrew, Cyrillic and many Latin scripts): this is the same as the 'PxPlus' extensions from the Ultimate Oldskool PC Font Pack.
  • The "437" version contains only the characters from the original IBM PC codepage CP437 ("US-Latin"), and is detected by Windows as an "OEM/DOS" font.  Suitable for your favorite .NFO viewer or any other situation where you need this character set.

The full selection of glyphs is this:

Flexi IBM VGA9 Font: All Glyphs

Have fun.

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