Lincoln/MITRE Typeface


Lincoln/MITRE is a collection of typefaces dedicated to the research and development of the typographic system designed by MIT Lincoln Laboratory for use in various displays on the early warning air defense computer network SAGE (1950s–1980s).

Taking into account that the type system would be used in situations of pressure and stress, the MIT Lincoln Laboratory and Mitre Corporation commissioned large studies into type legibility, as well as undertaking their own legibility tests. The goal being to create a type design that would work both technically, over various display systems [Cathode Ray Tube and Dot-Matrix displays], and visually (as a whole) while creating maximum visible differentiation between individual glyphs within its alphanumeric and graphic system, therefore reducing mistakes in recognition between signs that are commonly mistaken for one another: for example ‘I’, ‘L’ and ‘1’; or, ‘O’, and ‘0’. The outcome of the L/M type system is a program for creating a typeface that doesn’t necessarily aid legibility — which is arguably a context based phenomenon — but presents a solution to the problem of producing maximum letter differentiation in a given type design system – which aids character recognition and acquisition. The L/M types were never developed to render continuous text but ‘call signs’ (The designation of the aircraft followed by an identification number), more visual signals, or data, than lexical semantics.