Ultimate Oldschool PC Font Pack v2.0 Released

Now with 200+ fonts, more variants, online index w/previews

The Ultimate Oldschool PC Font Pack finally has its long-overdue update. To make up for the 4-year holdup, it's quite a big one: not only are there nearly 3 times as many fonts as before, but each of these fonts also gets 3 new variants. Along with other updates, the website also got overhauled, and there's now a detailed info page for each font, complete with a little sandbox where you can try it out. Maybe it's TOO big of an update, but if something's worth doing, it's worth overdoing!

New Fonts

So, what DO you get? To start with, 133 new font families have been added, from 52 different hardware, firmware and software sources. The scope of the collection has itself expanded a little, and now covers interesting "semi-compatibles" in addition to 100% IBM PC-compatible hardware, but most of these fonts still come from the True Blue side of things. Here's just a little sample:

Some new fonts in the Ultimate Oldschool PC Font Pack v2.0

New Variants: Mixed Outline/Bitmap, Aspect-Correct, Webfonts

As before, the font name prefix indicates the variant. The basic families from v1.0 are still around:

  • 'Px' (pixel outline): TrueType fonts that reproduce the forms of the oldschool pixel glyphs
  • 'Bm' (bitmap): plain Windows .FON versions

On top of those two, there are three new ones:

  • 'Mx' (mixed-format): TrueType with embedded bitmaps; should render as sharply as plain bitmap fonts when used at the right sizes. They don't completely supplant the 'Px' fonts as they're not always well-supported (there's an older post about that).
  • 'Ac' (aspect-correct): most of these fonts weren't originally used on square-pixel displays, so these TrueType versions are scaled to emulate the faithful pixel aspect, depending on the hardware and video modes that the fonts were used in.
  • 'Web': webfonts in .woff format: similar to the 'Px' versions, but the file size is smaller and the metrics make more sense for web usage.

    Aspect correction: the IBM MDA font in square-pixel rendering vs. the original pixel aspect

    Aspect correction: the IBM MDA font in square-pixel rendering ('Px') vs. the original pixel aspect ('Ac')

Embedded bitmaps: text w/ClearType, 10x zoom; 'Px' fonts (left) show fringing, but 'Mx' (right) looks crisp

Embedded bitmaps: text w/ClearType, 10x zoom; 'Px' fonts (left) show fringing, but 'Mx' (right) looks crisp

Other Updates

  • Bugfix: corrected all font styles to "Regular" across the board.
  • Adjusted the Ascent metric for certain fonts taller than 16 pixels, to make size selection more consistent.
  • Some fonts have been renamed, to keep things more consistent and less confusing. Others were removed because they were superseded by better versions (for a list, see the changelog).

This last change can create conflicts with older versions of the fonts, so I didn't make it lightly. Problem was, the older naming decisions were basically pulled out of somewhere with zero solar radiative flux, and I couldn't see any way to retain them without making an even bigger mess of things. As just one example, v1.x used the name "IBM VGA9" for the 9x16 VGA font; but now we have 9x8, 9x14, and 9x16 fonts for the IBM VGA, so "9" by itself doesn't cut it. The bottom line is unfortunately this:

If you're upgrading from v1.x, I strongly recommend uninstalling all older "Bm" and "Px" fonts before you install any from v2.0. Otherwise you'll end up with duplicates and an inconsistent set.

I know it's a bit of a hassle, but it had to be done. In the future perhaps there will be a decent installer.

That aside, the website was also revamped:

  • It's now quite a bit more usable on mobile. Still not 100%, but at least it's not hopelessly broken anymore.
  • Each font now has its own preview/info page, where you can try sizes, aspect ratios and custom text, and get the lowdown on where/how the font was used originally.
  • Under 'Showcase', you get both screenshots and links to other awesome/useful projects showing these fonts in action.
  • More documentation, more historical info on more machines, a new FAQ section, and in general more long-winded verbiage!
  • New ANSI art? As actual character data? With variable fonts? And responsive to boot? You bet!

Now, go and play around with some classic pre-GUI raster typography.



Wysteria says:

Great work!!

Are you at all interested in including CJK scripts like Japanese in future versions? There's quite a few fonts in your collection that from Japanese machines and it's kind of a shame that the Japanese glyphs from those fonts aren't included.

Thanks! Those CJK charsets should definitely be preserved in some way, agreed on that count. I'm probably not the guy to do it however, since I have practically zero familiarity with those scripts and with their encodings (both oldschool and modern). When you consider the sheer sizes of these character sets, that becomes a very effective showstopper.

(A more technical problem is that they're usually stored in an assortment of compressed formats due to the size, whether in ROM or on file... for instance PC-DOS/V seems to use its own packing method for the big DBCS fonts. I don't think those formats are documented anywhere, or at least not in a language I can read.)

Ian says:

Thank you so so much for the brilliant work!

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