A Brief History of the Alphabet and Type

Our alphabet is a series of marks that represent sounds in our language. Letters are the physical form of our written language, and type is the mechanical form. To understand typography, one needs to understand how our written language developed.

The earliest form of visual language dates back to the Stone Age. In southern Europe between 30,000 B.C. and 9,000 B.C., marks and symbols were painted on cave walls. Many theories exist as to what they represent—number of animals killed, clan narratives, etc. The drawings represented objects independent of their pronunciation. They are called pictograms. Once they were used repeatedly and became recognizable, they became a visual language.

Eventually the ...

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