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Microsoft initially shipped Tahoma with Office 97, but by that time the guy who designed it, Matthew Carter, had already started adding vector based outlines to the production version.

I'm wondering if anyone has access to the original bitmapped version of Tahoma?

If not, suggestions are welcome on how to create it myself, although I've been playing with FontForge and fontTools for 2 days and can't figure it out.

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  • Doesn't the .ttf have embedded bitmaps for certain sizes? I know at least some of Microsoft fonts do that.
    – grawity
    Commented May 6, 2023 at 8:24
  • I'm not sure. Not sure how to verify that.
    – Jeff
    Commented May 6, 2023 at 9:34
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    The oldest version of Tahoma I could find (circa Win98 SE) doesn't seem to have any embedded bitmaps, but I may be doing this wwong
    – scruss
    Commented May 7, 2023 at 16:56

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I don't think Tahoma ever was distributed as a bitmap font. The idea that it was likely came from this interview with Matthew Carter, Georgia & Verdana - typefaces for the screen - www.will-harris.com:

So instead of starting with outlines and then working to hint them for the screen, I started by simply making bitmap fonts. No outlines, just bitmaps.

Bitmaps are relatively easy to make and they show exactly how the fonts will look on-screen. This allowed us to make decisions about sizes, weights, and distinctions between serif, sans, roman, italic, all viewed in context. Working this way we came up with a definition for a certain number of critical sizes and weights.

Once the key bitmaps were done, I very carefully wrapped an outline around them. …

Carter — one of the preeminent contemporary type designers — didn't even pass the bitmaps to the person doing the hinting. The stress on the bitmaps in the interview was to support the idea that Tahoma was designed for the screen rather than the page.

As for making bitmap strikes, otf2bdf from the FreeType project will do a decent job. Fontforge is a difficult program with a near-vertical learning curve, sadly.

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    "Once the key bitmaps were done" might imply that not all characters at all relevant sizes were created as bitmaps, but just those characters that are "notoriously difficult" to get a good low-resolution bitmap representation for, and characters with significant font-defining features. You definitely want a lowercase "e" bitmap in this approach because it defines the position of the central vertical bar. You want a lowercase "t" to define the height of that stroke. You want a lowercase "i" to define the hight of the tittle. You want lowercase m and n to define the distance between the beams. Commented May 7, 2023 at 8:30

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