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III. Fonts from 3rd-Party Video Hardware

This is where we cover all non-IBM graphics cards that were available for PC compatibles over the years (without being restricted to particular machines). Here too, the great majority of chipset/board makers never really bothered to depart from IBM's original character designs, but there are quite a few exceptions.

Acer Inc. / Multitech Electronics

Multitech PC-CGA (PB85048):

See Acer 710; this board's 8x8 font was reused for the 710 after the company's name change.


Acer M3125 VGA:

At least some VGA boards based on Acer's M3125 video BIOS used their own 8x8 font design. For the other standard VGA character sizes, the bitmaps matched those of IBM, so only the 8x8 charset has been included here.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
Acer VGA 8x8

8x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
Acer VGA 8x8-2y

8x8; CP437
Square
1:2
Correct
5:12
Acer VGA 9x8

9x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:4


American Megatrends, Inc.

Video cards w/AMI EGA BIOS:

EGA boards using AMI's video BIOS (e.g. the Matrox PG1281) have the following fonts, which cannot seem to decide whether they're serif or sans-serif, often in the same character. The 8x8 size also shows up in machines based on AMI's *system* BIOS, from the 8088 to the 486 era at least, as the default graphics mode font for CGA.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
AMI EGA 8x8

8x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
AMI EGA 8x8-2y

8x8; CP437
Square
1:2
Correct
5:12
AMI EGA 8x14

8x14; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:4
AMI EGA 9x14

9x14; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
2:3


ATI Technologies

ATI Wonder (and later) video cards:

This series of fonts includes every standard cell size supported by the usual CGA/EGA/VGA modes, and is used on a very wide range of ATI cards: most of the EGA/VGA Wonder, Mach 32/64, Rage, and similar lines. The style is maintained across sizes, and the 9-column variants have their own alternate wide glyphs ('M', 'T' and co.) to replace their 8-column counterparts.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
ATI 8x8

8x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
ATI 8x8-2y

8x8; CP437
Square
1:2
Correct
5:12
ATI 9x8

9x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:4
ATI 8x14

8x14; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
ATI 9x14

9x14; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:4
ATI 8x16

8x16; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
ATI 9x16

9x16; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:4

ATI Small Wonder Graphics Solution:

ATI's enhanced CGA/MDA/HGC clone offered (among other things) the ability to output 132-column text. The card has a specific 'thin' font for this purpose; on a monochrome display (MDA-compatible), 132-column mode is achieved by using 6 pixel wide character cells. This results in a pixel aspect of 5:8 on a typical 3:4 monitor.

(The normal CGA/MDA fonts on the card are identical to IBM's, rather than the usual ATI fonts seen above.)

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
ATI SmallW 6x8

6x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:8


Cirrus Logic Inc.

CL-GD510/520 ('Eagle II') VGA:

This 1988 Super VGA chipset offered a few extended video modes, true register-level backward compatibility with EGA/CGA/MDA/HGC, and the ability to drive the pre-VGA digital monitors required by those earlier standards.  But this impressive level of fidelity didn't extend to VGA text mode appearance – the 8/9x16 fonts got quite the overhaul.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
CL EagleII 8x16

8x16; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
CL EagleII 9x16

9x16; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:4

CL-GD5320 ('Eagle III') VGA:

A later (1990) revision of the Eagle II, which simplifies integration by requiring less external circuitry, and adds some more modes and features along the way.  The 'III' designation only seems to show up in a support utility or two, but it makes for a catchier font name than "CL-GD5320".

Again, only the 8x16/9x16 font designs are unique to this model.  They're styled like those of its older brother the II, just with the glyph heights toned back down a notch.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
CL EagleIII 8x16

8x16; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
CL EagleIII 9x16

9x16; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:4

CL-GD610/620 ('Stingray') Mobile VGA:

No relation to Hercules' Stingray 3dfx boards.  This 1989 SVGA controller was specialized for flat-panel output, so it cropped up in a variety of portable machines from the likes of GRiD Systems, Olivetti, and others.  For industry-standard 25-row text on 640x480 square-pixel displays, there's a new 8x19 font size; and as flat panels were often monochrome at the time, the x16/x19 sizes also get bold versions, which stand in for high-intensity text.

CRTs are supported too, but the fonts used in that case are identical to the Eagle II.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
CL Stingray 8x16

8x16; CP437
Square
1:1
(Bold)
Square
1:1
CL Stingray 8x19

8x19; CP437
Square
1:1
(Bold)
Square
1:1


Eagle Computer

Eagle Spirit CGA board (alternate fonts):

Eagle Computer produced a number of early PC compatibles; the Spirit was a 1983 luggable with a built-in 9" CRT. This CGA board was released for that specific machine, although it's (probably) usable with any IBM or clone. The default font is yet another identical copy of IBM's CGA charset, but interestingly the character ROM contains 3 more alternate fonts.

The first one ('Alt1') is identical to the system font from Eagle's 1630 and PC-2 computers, if not others. The other two are sci-fi & fantasy-inspired fonts: clearly not meant for "serious" use, but pretty elaborate and well-done regardless.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
EagleSpCGA Alt1

8x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
EagleSpCGA Alt1-2y

8x8; CP437
Square
1:2
Correct
5:12
EagleSpCGA Alt2

8x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
EagleSpCGA Alt2-2y

8x8; CP437
Square
1:2
Correct
5:12
EagleSpCGA Alt3

8x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
EagleSpCGA Alt3-2y

8x8; CP437
Square
1:2
Correct
5:12


Epson Corp.

Epson MGA Q205A:

The Q205A is a "Multi-mode Graphics Adapter" - the 'M' doesn't just stand for monochrome, as this board could be toggled for either CGA or Hercules compatibility. As such, it was provided with 8x8 and 9x14 ROM fonts to match, and even went the extra mile of including an alternate single-dot CGA font.

This board was often sold with the earlier Epson Equity-series computers, and the same fonts were used for the Equity LT laptop.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
EpsonMGA

8x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
EpsonMGA-2y

8x8; CP437
Square
1:2
Correct
5:12
EpsonMGA Alt

8x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
EpsonMGA Alt-2y

8x8; CP437
Square
1:2
Correct
5:12
EpsonMGA Mono

9x14; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
2:3


Everex Systems

Everex Micro Enhancer:

The Micro Enhancer series was a line of so-called "super EGA" boards with various extended feature sets. The ME Deluxe EV-657 supported (among other things) some proprietary text modes in a rare example of odd character widths, e.g. 132x44 characters at 5x8 dots each, and 94x51 at 7x8.

The EV-659A was a similar board, which supported resolutions such as 640x480 (although it wasn't VGA-compatible). It is assumed that this explains the 8x16 VBIOS font.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
EverexME 5x8

5x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:4
EverexME 7x8

7x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
EverexME 8x16

8x16; CP437
Square
1:1


InteGraphics Systems

InteGraphics IGA 1680:

A mid-1990s 2D-accelerated SVGA chip, found in PCI video boards like the Shuttle HOT-137/139.  IGS's video BIOS contains the usual set of IBM-derived fonts, except for the 8x16/9x16 sizes, which seem to be updated takes on earlier ones from Cirrus Logic.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
IGS VGA 8x16

8x16; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
IGS VGA 9x16

9x16; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:4


Paradise Systems

Paradise VGA Plus:

This SVGA board had its own set of extended modes, and the DOS drivers included a set of fonts for them. At least on non-multisync monitors, they were rendered as 7 rather than 8 dots wide: 132x43 characters at 7x9 pixels each, and 132x25 at the 7x16 size. These are clearly thin-stroke versions of the original IBM bitmap fonts.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
Paradise132 7x9

7x9; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:5
Paradise132 7x16

7x16; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:5


Phoenix Technologies

Video cards w/Phoenix EGA BIOS:

Phoenix's EGA firmware has these character sets built in.  They all follow a consistent design with less rounded curves, sharper diagonals, and thinner strokes on the more elaborate characters.  All the usual character sizes for EGA text modes make an appearance, complete with the monochrome-friendly 9x14 size.

Some of these cards were based on C&T's 82C435 controller, and unlike standard EGA it also supported a 400-line text mode; so there's an 8x16 variant (with an unusually small x-height), but no VGA-compliant 9x16.  The 8x8 size can also be seen in machines based on the Phoenix *system* BIOS v3.x, as the default for CGA graphics.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
PhoenixEGA 8x8

8x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
PhoenixEGA 8x8-2y

8x8; CP437
Square
1:2
Correct
5:12
PhoenixEGA 8x14

8x14; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:4
PhoenixEGA 9x14

9x14; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
2:3
PhoenixEGA 8x16

8x16; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6

Video cards w/Phoenix VGA BIOS:

An ambiguous categorization here; Phoenix seemed to have its fingers in every pie in the VBIOS kitchen at some point, and most of them are all over the place in terms of charset design.  However, this set most closely descends from the older Phoenix EGA/system BIOS fonts, with enough differences to make it count.  The particular Phoenix firmware it comes from was for a Biostar Venus 3D Voodoo Rush board, of all things.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
PhoenixVGA 8x8

8x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
PhoenixVGA 9x8

9x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:4
PhoenixVGA 8x14

8x14; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
PhoenixVGA 9x14

9x14; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:4
PhoenixVGA 8x16

8x16; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
PhoenixVGA 9x16

9x16; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:4


Rendition Inc.

Rendition Verite chipsets:

Various 3D boards based on Verite 1000 / 2x00 chipsets (Sierra Screamin' 3D, Intergraph Intense 3D 100, QDI Vision-1, etc.) use these charsets, which are nicely readable with a squarish/more angular take on the IBM VGA character design, including stylized punctuation marks and special chars. There are no alternate wide glyphs for 'M', 'T' and their likes, as there usually are for the 9-dot-wide variants.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
Verite 8x8

8x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
Verite 8x8-2y

8x8; CP437
Square
1:2
Correct
5:12
Verite 9x8

9x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:4
Verite 8x14

8x14; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
Verite 9x14

9x14; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:4
Verite 8x16

8x16; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
Verite 9x16

9x16; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:4


Sigma Designs, Inc.

RealMagic GX/64:

The entire point of the RealMagic series was its hardware MPEG video decoding, so it may come as a surprise that this card's VGA BIOS bothers with a triviality like the appearance of text modes.  Actually, this is a close relative of the Rendition Verite font set (and others from the same general Phoenix VBIOS lineage), with a few minor adjustments, and this time we do get alternate wider glyphs in the 9x14/9x16 versions.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
Sigma RM 8x8

8x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
Sigma RM 9x8

9x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:4
Sigma RM 8x14

8x14; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
Sigma RM 9x14

9x14; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:4
Sigma RM 8x16

8x16; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
Sigma RM 9x16

9x16; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:4


STB Systems

STB AutoEGA:

STB had a few models with this designation, based on C&T's 82C435 EGA chipset, and at least some of them could be populated with extra RAM chips *and* clock crystals to support higher resolutions.  The ROM for this one copies IBM's 8x8 font, but the 8x14/9x14 sizes do their own thing with the design.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
STB AutoEGA 8x14

8x14; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:4
STB AutoEGA 9x14

9x14; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
2:3


Trident Microsystems

Early Trident TVGA (8800CS):

The very first (S)VGA chipsets from Trident came with matching firmware, which customized the font styles as well.  All standard VGA text sizes got a similar treatment, in a kind of rough-looking sans serif type:

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
TridentEarly 8x8

8x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
TridentEarly 9x8

9x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:4
TridentEarly 8x14

8x14; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
TridentEarly 9x14

9x14; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:4
TridentEarly 8x16

8x16; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
TridentEarly 9x16

9x16; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:4

There were also some proprietary TVGA text modes that called for an 8x11-dot cell.  The 1:1 aspect is as seen in proprietary mode 51h (640x480), but mode 55h (1056x480) had a roughly 3:5 pixel aspect.  This one looks much rougher than the others; I'd say it crosses over firmly into "ugly", but thankfully it didn't see a lot of use.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
TridentEarly 8x11

8x11; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:5

Later Trident TVGA series:

Trident's inexpensive video solutions didn't go out of their way to distinguish themselves in terms of speed and performance.  Fittingly, later TVGA-based cards make their text characters less distinctive as well, sticking very closely to IBM's VGA and co. with only some token modifications here and there.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
Trident 8x8

8x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
Trident 9x8

9x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:4
Trident 8x14

8x14; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
Trident 9x14

9x14; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:4
Trident 8x16

8x16; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
Trident 9x16

9x16; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:4

The aforementioned 8x11 size was also changed.  Different firmware used different fonts for that one; this one is taken from an Octek TVGA8900B card (with an additional fix in some of the accented characters, to make the baselines consistent).

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
Trident 8x11

8x11; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:5


Tseng Labs

Tseng Labs EVA-480 (ET2000):

The ET2000 was Tseng Labs' first real integrated chipset, and featured a superset of EGA capabilities.  The EVA-480 board could pull off extended resolutions like 640x480, and had a special daughterboard(!) for 100% CGA/HGC support.

On top of that, the firmware included a couple of condensed fonts (6x8 and 6x14) for 132-column text modes.  These only worked on multisync monitors – in fact, this board was rebranded as the NEC MultiSync Graphics Card BG-I and marketed for use with NEC's original MultiSync.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
TsengEVA 132 6x8

6x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:8
TsengEVA 132 6x14

6x14; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:8


Wyse Technology

Wyse WY-700:

Originally a terminal manufacturer, Wyse was noted for its hi-res text displays. The WY-700 was one of the high-end graphics solutions that appeared for the emerging GUI, desktop publishing and CAD markets in the mid-'80s, before VGA, SVGA or VESA were a thing. It could emulate standard CGA/monochrome on its specialized 1280x800 "paper-white" monitor, so it featured a large 16x16 character set, for either 80x25 or 80x50 text mode.

This came in two hardware charsets: a thick serif font, which can pass as a higher-resolution version of the IBM MDA font, and a thin sans-serif one which is probably less of an eye-strain at 80x50.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
Wyse700a

16x16; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
Wyse700a-2y

16x16; CP437
Square
1:2
Correct
5:12
Wyse700b

16x16; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
Wyse700b-2y

16x16; CP437
Square
1:2
Correct
5:12


Miscellaneous Video Firmware Fonts

Various (Wang, Chromatic Research, NeoMagic, Silicon Motion):

Some video hardware manufacturers were pretty promiscuous with their charset designs, so tracing their origins can get touchy.  This font, for instance, first(?) cropped up in a Wang Laboratories VGA card circa 1991 (the 3050 / WVGA-16HR), but derivative variants show up in the VGA BIOS of seemingly unrelated products, e.g. desktop and mobile chips from the mid-late '90s: Chromatic Research's Mpact2, NeoMagic's 2160 and 128XD, and Silicon Motion's SM910.

This version is a bit more polished than Wang's, and comes from the Mpact2 firmware, where the bitmap data has this string appended: "VGA FONT 1.05.02 02/16/93 ACM". So for naming purposes, I'll go with that.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
ACM VGA 8x8

8x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
ACM VGA 9x8

9x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:4
ACM VGA 8x14

8x14; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
ACM VGA 9x14

9x14; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:4
ACM VGA 8x16

8x16; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
ACM VGA 9x16

9x16; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:4