a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Working on my letters and problems with the S


Research into the history of typography
Donald Knuth Scientist
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

I wasn't going to go into this whole project blindly, I wanted to… I wanted to, you know, avoid the mistake that almost every engineer makes when they… when they approach something with technology and that is to say, well, forget the past, it's all a new world.  Throw… throw the old stuff out and we’re going to redo everything. So I didn't want to… in any way detach myself away from the old traditions. I had these ideas about using mathematics to capture the… the past, but I didn't… but I didn't want to throw away the past so I… so I did like lots and lots of reading in the library, and I… and I studied. And Stanford has one of the best collections of books on fine printing, called the Gunst Collection in its… in its department of… of rare books. And so I spent lots and lots of time looking at all the books I could get my hands on – on typography. Also, my wife and I are a member of the Associates of the Stanford Libraries [sic], and we went on a trip to Sacramento where we could see the Gutenberg Bible and various other typographic specimens. There was a show put on there at the Sacramento Bee office about history of typography and beautiful things, and we visited people who lived in the mountains and had their own printing presses and… and collected books on typography. So… so this was a 2-day trip into Gold Country, and we… and… and I'm staring at all of the letters that I see, and saying, how could I capture this in… in a computer? This was all taking place in the Spring of 1977.

Born in 1938, American computing pioneer Donald Knuth is known for his greatly influential multi-volume work, 'The Art of Computer Programming', his novel 'Surreal Numbers', his invention of TeX and METAFONT electronic publishing tools and his quirky sense of humor.

Listeners: Dikran Karagueuzian

Trained as a journalist, Dikran Karagueuzian is the director of CSLI Publications, publisher of seven books by Donald Knuth. He has known Knuth since the late seventies when Knuth was developing TeX and Metafont, the typesetting and type designing computer programs, respectively.

Tags: Stanford University, Gunst Collection, Associates of the Stanford University Libraries, Sacramento, Sacramento Bee, Gutenberg Bible, Gold Country

Duration: 1 minute, 37 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2006

Date story went live: 24 January 2008