Font for DEC indicator panels

Toby Thain toby at
Tue Nov 13 06:40:15 CST 2018

On 2018-11-13 12:11 AM, Steve Malikoff via cctalk wrote:
> Guy said
>> Hmm, I posted to the list about this 3 hours ago, and it hasn't appeared yet.
>> Is there an extra vetting process for posts that include links to web sites?
>> I included various links to font searching sites, cleaned-up samples of the DEC fonts
>> from my own scan (online) of a DEC PDP-8/S panel, and specific fonts I found via
>> search tools - that are very close or identical matches to the DEC panel fonts.
>> Should I repost, or just wait till it appears?
>> Guy
> I sometimes find delays posting to cctalk when I (located +10 GMT) post before 10am local
> time, ie. it is still the previous day on the cctalk server and most of the rest of the
> world. My post seems to disappear for up to ten hours or so. I don't recall any trouble when
> I post after 10am local time, it appears pretty much immediately. Well that's what it seems
> to be like, I could be wrong but I don't worry about it too much.
> Regarding fonts on reproduced panels. This is a common problem in vintage vehicle restoration
> when reproduction dataplates are made and sold. Some of the repos are redrawn on computer and
> retyped with a close font.
> However this isn't really good enough for a demanding restorer. I've even seen a repro
> nomenclature plate with a typo, which would be annoying considering the cost of some of these
> things. If you have access to the original, nothing really beats reproducing the _image_ of
> the panel with all its nuanced spacing, miniscule changes in letter size and orientation
> and the like rather than recreating the panel.
> In Noel's case the originals are probably not at hand, so there is obviously no choice but to
> recreate them. 

That's not realistic in this case. The only artwork we have is much too
poor to be sources for redrawing, but we also know rather closely what
family the originals are from (grotesks and sans available mid-century).
>From off the shelf fonts we can get much closer than Deja Vu or
Helvetica (although almost certainly not using free fonts).

As you say, one of the challenges is that only a fraction of the
diversity of pre-digital typefaces has survived into digital, and
specimen books are also rare, but I'm checking with a couple of other
typographers because the DX11 panel font might be digitally available.
It seems weirdly familiar although I can't yet put a name to it.


> I can't help with the font but it makes me think of the curved font on
the front
> of the PDP-11 consoles and in the handbook where the lowercase t has a different length depending
> on whether it is in or at the end of a word.
> Steve.

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