I'm looking for a font for a tattoo. I don't have any preferred font so I thought using the original Unix font could be a great reference to the great history. Can't find any reliable information about that on search engines except that I found out Courier was the original IBM font that was created for typewriters. I would prefer sans-serif monospace font, thanks in advence.
Sorry to disapoint you, there is no 'unix' font.
Unix was developed on mini computers using terminals, which could be CRT based or printing terminals (teletype). In either case the 'font' used was whatever that terminal had, so the same output could (and usually would) look quite different on different devices. Heck, not even case used might have been the same, as those devices often were upper or lower case letters only.
Also, these fonts were in next to all cases neither selectable nor exchangeable. That is unless one exchanged a ROM in case of CRT or physical print heads in case of TTYs.
In general early fonts were usually rather limited 5x7 designs. It wasn't until the late 1970s that terminals with higher resolution became (somewhat) common allowing 8x8 or 8x12 fonts.
So what you ask for is either rough pixelation, only softened by screens way less perfect than today:
(Mid to late 1970s LSI ADM 3A taken from this nice page)
Or simply an average 1950s typewriter font (upper case only of course:)):
(Taken from this fine PDP8-site)
It cant get more unixy than that :))
(For a lower case only TTY example see this video)
My first (1983) exposure to Unix was via teletypes and CRT terminals (VT52, ADM3a) so the fonts were generated by the terminal devices and nothing to do with the OS itself. Troff was used but only for printing final copies of research papers etc. You might get some inspiration from some of the user manuals though.
- Title: Ken Thompson (sitting) and Dennis Ritchie at PDP-11
- Attribution: Peter Hamer, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
It would look like this in the wild (image is from Wikipedia Commons here:
Description: Micro-8 Computer User Group Newsletter June 27, 1975. ... The early issues of this newsletter were in ALL CAPS because they printed on an ASR33 Teletype.
Attribution: Hal Singer and John Craig (Editors), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
I think we've established that this is close to unanswerable, given that it was most likely an ASR-33 teletype.
Slightly later, however, DEC's DECwriter dot-matrix terminal was very popular. It was introduced in 1970 as the upper-case only LA30, and then further models include the upper and lower case DECwriter II (LA36; 1974). These used a 7-pin matrix with the common limitation of no two adjacent horizontal pin positions printed. Old matrix pins are big, and the solenoids couldn't fire fast enough to register adjacent dots.
Some years ago I took the DECwriter II print matrices and made the mnicmp font based on them:
While the LA36 was quite common, the older LA30 may be more “authentic”. It uses a slight simpler font (see video print sample here: PDP-11/45 running Adventure on LA30). In particular, the LA30 digit 3 has near vertical symmetry, where the LA36 is more angular.
(Since modern font features can be any shape you want, I went a bit off the rails with this one and made a version with each dot a tiny heart because I could: LoveMatrix.)
If one really must go down the 5×7 all-caps route, I also made Keypunch029 based on the characters printed in the top of a card by an IBM Type 29 Card Punch (1965).
To look at it from another angle, why fixate on a hypothetical Unix font if it has no personal meaning to you? (It obviously doesn't, because if there were a particular one that had a personal meaning to you, you'd know.) So rather pick a font that has some sort of personal meaning to you. Maybe the default font of your first (Unix) computer or terminal, maybe some other font, but something meaningful to you personally.
http://academy.delmar.edu/Courses/ITSC1358/eBooks/man-troff.pdf is from 1976. See Table I on page 30, which seems to suggest you could have any font you liked as long as it was Times