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Do you know which font is being used in the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnudvJbAgI0? A screengrab of the video that shows a lot of text:

enter image description here

We can see that the zeros are slashed, so it is probably not one of the 9x16 fonts which used to have dotted zeros.

Do you know which font set was being used in these PCs that produced slashed zeros?

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    This looks like a pretty standard VGA font. They didn't really have names at that time - I saw a great variety of machines where characters looked exactly like this. The only machines I recall that used a dotted zero were IBM PS/2 machines. Jan 25, 2023 at 22:12
  • @GregHewgill Any clue what the dimensions of this font might be? I am trying to compare this with the fonts at int10h.org/oldschool-pc-fonts/fontlist but quite hard to figure out which one this might be matching. Jan 25, 2023 at 22:15

3 Answers 3

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The font in use appears to be the ‘9×14’ bitmap font (i.e. 8×14 glyph bitmaps tweaked for 9×14 character cells) of the Hercules graphics card. The title of the video is ‘Windows1 (1985) PC XT Hercules’; I guess that’s something of a dead giveaway. This font happens to be substantially (if not perfectly) identical to that of the original IBM MDA card.

In the ‘VGA Text Mode Fonts’ collection, glyphs from FONTS/PC-IBM/MDA9.F14, FONTS/PC-OTHER/GRMONOX9.F14, FONTS/PC-OTHER/RUMG2M9.F14, FONTS/PC-OTHER/HYUNMGR9.F14 and a few others appear to be consistent with what is seen in the recording. Those font files are not identical, so there must be some glyphs that differ by at least a few pixels, but I have not noticed a perceptible difference in the characters seen in the video.

Other than slashed zero, particularly characteristic are the shapes of the glyphs for ‘6’, ‘A’, ‘M’, ‘V’, ‘W’, ‘Y’, ‘b’, ‘f’ and ‘y’, especially the latter three: the notch in the ‘b’ glyph, the longer horizontal stroke of the ‘f’ and the shorter tail of the ‘y’ distinguish the MDA font from the EGA font.0 Below is my attempt at reconstructing the screenshot with one of those fonts:

Reconstructed screendump

If you open the above image in a viewer that can interpret ‘pHYs’ PNG chunks, you should be able to view it in the original 4:3 aspect ratio. Though if for whatever reason you cannot find one, here it is again with aspect correction.

The website you linked in the comments offers this font as IBM MDA, but without aspect correction. I presume this might have thrown you off, leaving you unable to recognise it.


0 The EGA font is also shifted one pixel to the left within the 9×14 character cell compared to MDA, but this is much harder to notice, if even possible. Those three glyphs pairs are the only ones to differ in shape.

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    +1 for the unnecessary effort of transcribing all of that text verbatim... Jan 26, 2023 at 15:15
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    @DarrelHoffman Just you wait until you see Raymond Chen recreate screenshots in HTML. Jan 26, 2023 at 15:32
  • Joined RC just give you a +1; whilst its an excellent answer, your dedication to the cause is beyond outstanding
    – 7caifyi
    Jan 27, 2023 at 13:42
  • I wasn’t convinced at first by your reasoning for it not being the EGA font; not that I thought you were wrong, but I wasn’t sure the tail of the y was clear enough to be certain! But after far too much time spent checking, it was the lower-case b that finally sold me. Well done! PS Transcript for anyone else who wants it. Jan 27, 2023 at 16:14
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    Yeah, ‘b’ also works. Now that I checked again, the EGA glyphs are shifted to the left within the character cell, but otherwise they are largely the same as MDA. It seems the only glyphs differing in shape are ‘b’, ‘f’ and ‘y’. Jan 27, 2023 at 17:53
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According to the video's description the used graphics card is a Hercules Graphics Card. This type is as well what gets selected during installation at 2:36. Since the very same font is clearly visible during RAM check chances are good that it's the cards default font.

The card support a

  • MDA compatible text mode 80×25 text mode with 9×14 pixel using the genuine IBM MDA font, plus it's own
  • 720×348 graphics mode.

In MDA compatible text mode the card uses the original IBM MDA 9x14 font, which is shown in above screen shot. The font can be seen(and tried) in detail on the MDA page on INT10h's Font List:

enter image description here

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We can see that the zeros are slashed, so it is probably not one of the 9x16 fonts which used to have dotted zeros.

Actually, that is the key clue. Dotted vs. slashed zeros were never specific to particular font size, but rather to a type of machine. In particular, for IBM dotted zero was classic for the 3270 series of terminals. See for example this font site and this font site.

On the other hand, the IBM MDA, CGA, EGA and VGA fonts all use slashed zero, with as far as I can tell the sole exception of the VGA 9x16 font. See this fabulous site for all the details. I don't know why IBM went with the dotted zero for VGA 9x16 specifically, but except for that it was all slashed zeros.

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