A hacker is extracting long-dead fonts from classic computers

Now these iconic glyphs can live on in perpetuity.

GitHub user spacerace has dumped the system fonts of more than 240 classic computers, graphics cards, and various thin clients and POS systems. We’re talking vintage gems like the IBM 5155 Personal Computer and the iconic 3dfx Voodoo3 graphics card (a video retrospective of it can be seen below.) These were extracted from the BIOS, or ROM of these older pieces, meaning that these fonts were built into the systems themselves by the original manufacturers. Unfortunately they aren’t fonts you can download to your computer and use; they're bitmap fonts.

A look back at the Voodoo 3 graphics card.

I sliced this up in Photoshop and it's not pixel perfect, please don't cry Jack.

Having no idea what a bitmap font is, I turned to our genius designer Jack Koloskus for an explanation. He told me:

The fonts that we are familiar with today are all vector based, meaning they are defined by points and handles to draw their curves. Then the system interprets those curves and draws the pixels based on what size the font is being displayed at, often adding anti-aliasing to indicate curvature where pixels might not normally be able to display curvature alone. Bitmap fonts required you defining how every pixel in a certain area was displayed, on or off. So a P would look like:
How a vector font is translated into pixels.
How a true bitmap is, well, mapped.

What good is it to have all these classic fonts dumped, especially when there are 8-bit-esque fonts like 8bitoperator (which was used in one of my all-time favorite games, Undertale)? Well, they show a bit of the character of the team that created them. These fonts were often the first thing you'd see on an ancient personal computer when you first powered it on. And besides, it's always good to find ways to preserve old technology. Just look at what happened with the U.S. government and COBOL.