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IV. Fonts from PC "Semi-Compatibles"

These computers generally ran some kind of x86 CPU, and their own customized versions of MS-DOS, but only had limited degrees of IBM PC compatibility.  That puts these fonts less firmly within the project's scope, but it's not as if they're collected anywhere else, plus some of these machines were more interesting than a vanilla PC clone, so let's bring 'em on.

Acorn Computers

BBC Master 512:

What's an Acorn machine doing in a PC-focused collection, you ask?  Well: this 8-bit computer came with an 80186 board that functioned as a PC-compatible extension running Digital Research's DOS Plus (and GEM).  Compatibility was far from 100%, due to architectural limitations; that included its CGA emulation, which had some color and speed constraints, and letterboxed the 200 CGA scanlines within the 256-line screen.

The built-in 8x8 font is similar to the usual BBC Micro one, but with the DOS code page 437 charset.  The hardware couldn't do 16 colors in text modes, so high-intensity text was made bold instead:

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
Master 512

8x8; CP437
Square
1:1
(Bold)
Square
1:1
Master 512-2y

8x8; CP437
Square
1:2
(Bold)
Square
1:2

There was also what DOS Plus called "Mode 7" (actually Mode 3 in Beeb terms); this was faster, and filled the screen vertically, at the cost of introducing 2 lines of space between each row of text.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
Master 512-M7

8x10; CP437
Square
1:2
(Bold)
Square
1:2


ACT / Apricot Computers

Apricot line (PC, Xi, F1, F2, Xen):

The desktop Apricots all supported a hi-res 800x400 monochrome monitor, giving 80x25 characters at 10x16 pixels each. Models with the color option added lower resolution fonts: 8x8 on 200-line displays, and 8x10 on 256-line ones (which made the pixels almost-square at 320x256, or 16:15 to be exact).

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
Apricot Mono

10x16; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
2:3
Apricot 200L

8x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
Apricot 200L-2y

8x8; CP437
Square
1:2
Correct
5:12
Apricot 256L

8x10; CP437
Square
1:1
Apricot 256L-2y

8x10; CP437
Square
1:2

The 286-based Xen was more of a PC-AT competitor, and it retained the hi-res mono option, but the color modes were brought closer to EGA at 640x350, and the corresponding font was accordingly 8x14 dots in size.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
ApricotXenC

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

Apricot Portable:

The portable version was somewhat different in that it didn't have a true text mode - it permanently ran in 640x200 graphics mode, and as every pixel was addressable, the text could be customized with loadable soft fonts. It was mostly seen with Apricot's default 200-line font (above), but at least one version of the system disk swapped it for this one:

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
ApricotPortable

8x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
3:4


Atari Corp.

Atari Portfolio:

This was the world's first true palmtop, originally released in the UK by DIP Research but then licensed to Atari.  Its 8088 CPU ran a customized DOS from ROM, and its monochrome LCD panel (no backlight) could pull off 240x64-pixel graphics, or 40x8 text characters of 6x8 pixels each.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
Portfolio 6x8

6x8; CP437
Square
1:1


Digital Equipment Corp.

DEC Rainbow 100:

The video system on this dual-CPU computer (Z80+8088, for running both CP/M and MS-DOS) was related to Digital's VT100/VT220 terminals, and could display text in four different column widths.  40/80-column text uses 10-dot-wide character cells, and 66/132-column text shaves off one dot of spacing.  Like the terminals, each pixel is doubled horizontally so that one bitmap dot becomes two on the screen (although the effect on double-width text isn't the same as on the terminals).

The Rainbow's character set is also based on the DEC standard, not on the IBM PC one.  This means that the CP437 version here is a custom adaptation, but all of the original characters (and more) are still available in the 'Plus' fonts.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
Rainbow100 re.40

10x10; CP437, Plus
Square
1:1
Rainbow100 re.80

10x10; CP437, Plus
Square
1:2
Rainbow100 re.66

9x10; CP437, Plus
Square
1:1
Correct
2:3
Rainbow100 re.132

9x10; CP437, Plus
Square
1:2
Correct
1:3


Fujitsu

Fujitsu FM-Towns series:

A successful line in Japan with quite a few models. Display options varied, but most modes had square-pixel resolutions, so no aspect correction should be needed for the fonts. The FM-Towns didn't have a full CP437 encoding, so rather than 100% faithful conversions, the versions here are ADAPTED/REMAPPED; they only cover the half-width character forms.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
FMTowns re. 8x8

8x8; CP437
Square
1:1
FMTowns re. 8x16

8x16; CP437
Square
1:1
FMTowns re. 8x16-2x

8x16; CP437
Square
2:1


Hewlett-Packard Co.

HP 150 Touchscreen:

HP's first MS-DOS PC, from 1983, was an 8-Mhz 8088 office machine touting an IR touch system for its monochrome CRT.  Its 80-column text was especially sharp; there are 9x14 dots per character, but each scanline may be shifted by half a dot, which effectively doubles the horizontal resolution.  The attention to detail didn't stop there: each dot is also stretched wider by ~1/3, making vertical and horizontal strokes equally wide despite the pixel aspect ratio.  (Bitmap font formats can't emulate that very well, so only the outline fonts replicate this dot-stretching here.)

The 150 can use several character sets simultaneously, but none of them match up with the IBM PC's; so once again the CP437 version here has been remapped for that code page, but the 'Plus' version has a much more complete selection.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
HP 150 re.

18x14; CP437, Plus
Square
1:2
Correct
1:3


Mindset Computer Corp.

Mindset:

This innovative but short-lived 1984 machine offloaded quite a few tasks to custom chipsets, Amiga-style. These coprocessors also handled advanced graphics at 320 or 640 pixels across, and 200 (or 400 interlaced) lines vertically. "Text mode" was emulated in graphics, so it supported custom character sizes and designs - even proportional fonts, but the system font was a monospaced 8x8.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
Mindset

8x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
Mindset-2x

8x8; CP437
Square
2:1
Correct
5:3
Mindset-2y

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


NEC Information Systems

NEC APC III:

NEC's 8086-based model from '84 was praised for being technically superior to contemporary PCs, and the display was no exception, with low (320x200), medium (640x200) or hi-res (640x400) output in either mono or color, and separate text/graphics buffers.

The APC III is closely related to the PC-9800 series marketed by NEC in Japan, and its fonts appear to be CP437 adaptations of that platform's native character sets.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
NEC APC3 8x8

8x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
NEC APC3 8x8-2y

8x8; CP437
Square
1:2
Correct
5:12
NEC APC3 8x16

8x16; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
NEC APC3 8x16-2x

8x16; CP437
Square
2:1
Correct
5:3


Philips Information Systems

Philips :YES:

The :YES was an 80186 machine with proprietary on-board video allowing 160/320/640x252 graphics. Consequently, characters are 8x10 pixels each for a total of 25 text rows, at an almost-square pixel aspect ratio. The 40/80-column text mode font ('T') is slightly different from the one used in graphic mode ('G').

There was an optional add-on for hi-res mono support (probably with a matching font), but that's MIA as of this writing.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
Philips :YES G

8x10; CP437
Square
1:1
Philips :YES G-2y

8x10; CP437
Square
1:2
Philips :YES G-2x

8x10; CP437
Square
2:1
Philips :YES T

8x10; CP437
Square
1:1
Philips :YES T-2y

8x10; CP437
Square
1:2


Research Machines

RM Nimbus PC-186:

A semi-compatible mainly seen in the British educational market, with a graphics subsystem supporting 320x250 or 640x250 RGB output. For standard 40x25/80x25 text mode, the PC-186 used an 8x10 character cell, like some of the other "incompatibles" in this section. The PC2 model was presumably similar.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
RM Nimbus

8x10; CP437
Square
1:1
RM Nimbus-2y

8x10; CP437
Square
1:2


VEB Robotron-Elektronik

Robotron A7100:

This tenuously PC-compatible machine from 1985 was manufactured in East Germany, and officially ran on a Soviet clone of the 8086 CPU, although most units apparently shipped with actual 8086s imported 'unofficially'.  Video (like most other components) was not PC-standard; the basic card provided 80x25 text on the 640x400 monochrome display, using 8x16-dot characters.  A later model, the A7150, had better compatibility and better graphics, but used (pretty much) the same default font.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
Robotron A7100

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


Siemens AG

Siemens PC-D:

The PC-D was yet another 80186 machine that ran its own customized version of MS-DOS; video output was monochrome at a 640x350 resolution, with a character size of 8x14 pixels to match. The system font is a readable, thin-stroke type which sort of resembles classic engineering/technical drawing text.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
Siemens PC-D

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


Tandy Corp.

Tandy 2000:

For a 1983 computer the 2000 was certainly powerful, and no slouch in terms of visuals either, with a hi-res display and various add-on options providing 640x400 graphics in color or monochrome.  The character generator was based on RAM rather than the typical ROM, so custom fonts could be programmed.  In text mode, this is the default 8x16 font loaded on boot:

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
Tandy2K

8x16; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
Tandy2K-2x

8x16; CP437
Square
2:1
Correct
5:3

Graphics mode uses a slightly different font, contained in the BIOS ROM.  As with IBM's BIOS graphics modes, only the first 128 characters are covered, unless the software provides the rest; this version fills out the code page by analogy with the text-mode font:

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
Tandy2K G

8x16; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
Tandy2K G-2x

8x16; CP437
Square
2:1
Correct
5:3

Other than the 8x16 graphics-mode font, the 2000's BIOS also sets up an 8x8 one, which is normally unused.  As per the manuals, it's exclusive to the "medium-resolution graphics option board", AKA the "TV/Joystick Option", for 320x200 graphics on a TV set.  It's unclear whether this mythical card was ever released; but that's no reason to keep the font obscure, so here's a version with the non-ASCII characters similarly fleshed out:

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
Tandy2K G-TV

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


Telenova

Telenova Compis / Compis II:

Another computer aimed at the educational market, this time the Scandinavian one, the Compis (AKA Scandis) natively ran CP/M-86 from ROM, but it also had its own port of MS-DOS - which supported the PC's CP437 character set seen here. (Graphically, it could pull off 640x400 and even a monochrome 1280x800 'ultra hi-res' mode.)

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
Compis

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


Texas Instruments

TI Professional Computer/Portable Professional Computer:

These were two more 8088-based MS-DOS PCs which traded IBM compatibility for enhanced features (the later 286-based 'Business Pro' model would be fully compatible).  Video was 720x300 in either color or mono; notably, even the portable had a color version at that resolution – in 1984.  That made the 9x12 text nice and sharp, although the lowercase letters and the caps/numerals have completely different styles for some reason.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
TI Pro

9x12; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:9


Toshiba Corp.

Toshiba T300:

Toshiba's 1983 not-quite-compatible machine one-upped the PC in a few respects, among them a faster 6 MHz 8088 and a selection of improved graphics adapters, from 320/640x200 to a 640x500 option showing 16 colors from a palette of 256. Text modes were all 25 rows, so those 500 scanlines make me unsure about the correct aspect for the 8x16 font.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
ToshibaT300 8x8

8x8; CP437
Square
1:1
Correct
5:6
ToshibaT300 8x8-2y

8x8; CP437
Square
1:2
Correct
5:12
ToshibaT300 8x16

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


Wang Laboratories

Wang Professional Computer/Advanced Professional Computer:

Synonymous at the time with word processing, Wang's foray into general-purpose computing spawned the 8086 PC and the 286 APC, whose IBM compatibility didn't extend to the hardware level.  The popular option was monochrome, at an 800x300 resolution.  The color option provided NTSC or analog RGB output at 320/640x225 pixels, yielding an 8x9 character cell and a nearly-square pixel aspect.

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
Wang Pro Mono

10x12; CP437
Square
1:2
Wang Pro Color

8x9; CP437
Square
1:1
Wang Pro Color-2y

8x9; CP437
Square
1:2


Zenith Data Systems

Zenith Z-100 Series:

These were introduced in 1982, with an S-100 bus sporting two CPUs - 8085 and 8088.  The video hardware could manage up to 8 colors at a standard resolution of 640x225, giving approximately a 1:2 pixel aspect ratio; for a conventional 80x25 text screen, that meant 8x9-dot characters.

The default font has single-dot strokes, but there's a thicker alternative which is very similar to IBM's 8x8 BIOS font, despite the extra scanline:

Font/Charsets Aspect Sample
Zenith Z-100

8x9; CP437
Square
1:2
Zenith Z-100 Alt

8x9; CP437
Square
1:2