finding a working Mishawaka font

Hi, my name is Justin Hall. I'm making a film about the first web I saw; the first fires of an explosion in human media making. I want my film to resemble the medium & era I'm recounting; using old web browsers for screenshots, or old email programs to show an old email message *

Eudora was a popular email program in the mid-1990s; searching around for Eudora email pictures, I found screenshots of what desktop email looked like back then. I figured I could cram my own content in a screenshot if I found one - but even after pixelating and blurring the font slightly, neither Monaco or Geneva matched the letters of this email - I needed to find a new font.

I posted this tweet:

Any serious font-heads know what font this is here? Eudora Mac message window circa 1996 #WTFont

— Justin Hall (@jah) March 3, 2015

A user named Julien @jsilland discovered it might be called Mishawaka. Searching around that I found Mishawaka on a favorite fonts list curated in 2001 by Aaron Swartz, a sadly-deceased internet freedom fighter. Further searching yields AaronSw in this chat attempting to get this font working for himself. Reading this casual online banter about font resuscitation I felt sad to remember Aaron's values and curiosity now departed, but also somehow warm because I could still inhabit the same knowledge experiment where he left his traces to guide me some.

That tweet lead to some lively discussion - many Monaco and Geneva suggestions. Plus few links and graphics from this helpful Wikipedia page Fonts on Macintosh.

Persistent pusher of the open data access and citizen engagement agenda Michal Migurski tracked down a broken link to the file in Qualcomm's FTP server; I alerted Qualcomm's customer service via Twitter:

Hi @qualcomm found a broken link can U fix pls? CC @migurski @philgyford @jsilland

— Justin Hall (@jah) March 3, 2015

Not necessarily expecting Qualcomm's social media intern to leap into action to restore FTP access to a long-forgotten file in a difficult format for an operating system that doesn't run, but maybe they would be inspired and the gesture of hope gets me off.

Phil Gyford chimed in that he had a computer of a vintage that would allow him to get inside Eudora's email client and extract the Mishawaka font resource:

@migurski @jah @enf I’ve got Eudora Light 1.5.5 from here and got it running and it has Mishawak!

— Phil Gyford (@philgyford) March 3, 2015

Phil then sent me a file with the font information in it, and a suggestion that I might be able to make a font with this file using FontForge.

I hadn't spoken to him since Phil helped us prototype an MMORPG game on top of web surfing. Phil also put online the diary of Samuel Pepys, a life-documentation role model. Phil might have more smarts and patience than me, because I can't figure out how to properly export a working version of Mishawaka from this file.

Wanna give it a whirl? Download and see if you can make a working OSX font, maybe with FontForge!

If you have ideas or success, please email me or @jah or #MishawakaFont on Twitter with anything you have! Then let's find a way to share it, since the only things that remain in existence over the long haul are the things that are copied.


end of March 2015 - a version uploaded!

John Faulkenbury ran Mishawaka through FontForge and got a version up and running! Here's a link to download his work John cautions: "It seems to track (horizontal spacing) differently depending on where you use it. I'm not very experienced with mac dfont bitmap fonts."

If you get some use from that, John suggests you might donate to this Liver Foundation raising money to improve outcomes for Pediatric Liver Disease. John also sends this comment: "Feel free to share it. I included Yaeger in the font description, you're probably right about it being his design originally. Let me know if you hear back from him, he was one of my compsci idols when I was a kid. :)"

mid-March 2015 - Steve Dorner, Larry Yaeger

Excitingly, I found the creator of Eudora Steve Dorner on Wikipedia and Twitter, and he replied!

@jah @philgyford @migurski @genmon I find it highly ironic for y'all to be discussing Mishawaka on Twitter.

— Steve Dorner (@SteveDorner) March 4, 2015

Steve mentioned that the designer of Mishawaka was probably a fellow named Larry Yaeger, and "BTW, I used Mishawaka because it came in 7-point — very handy for toaster macs." Larry Yaeger might be this Larry Yeager currently at Indiana University. He hasn't responded yet to my email inquiry.

Upon a recommendation from @samuelfine, I started a project using an online font-creation tool: Mishawaka2K on Fontstruct which people can clone and expand upon.

Mark Han found another online inquiry about Mishawaka from Kenneth Taylor.

Thank you so much for your attention here - I intend to update this if / as the Mishawaka font situation changes! Developing rapidly so far in March 2015.

BTW - the name Mishawaka seems to be the same as a town in Indiana; drawing from the Mishawaka Indiana town history page:

"Mishawaka, the Princess City, lies nestled along the meandering path of the St. Joseph River. The city is named after Princess Mishawaka, daughter of Shawnee Chief Elkhart. The legend of her romance with white trapper Deadshot, and abduction by her jealous Indian suitor Grey Wolf, characterizes the mixture of romance and history still found in Mishawaka today."

That's some charged mixture of romance and history!

Justin's Links

* attention to detail on this level, tuning Mosaic animations to get the cursor right, for example - this might explain why my film has blown through all my deadlines thus far!