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Ancient history: the Digital logo
» Home : Blog : December 2007
My first corporate job was with Digital Equipment Corporation. I worked in the printer group, on PostScript technologies. It was common then to simulate the Digital logo by scaling Helvetica and superimposing it in white onto colored rectangles.
But I knew that was inaccurate, and it gave a bad hacked-up impression. So I took it upon myself to create a genuine Digital logo in PostScript. My association with the logo was strong enough that I still get requests every few months for the logo. I am now an HP employee, so I have contact with even more ex-DECcies interested in the logo (HP bought Compaq which bought Digital, you see).
When the latest request came in, I decided to make a serious attempt at resurrecting the logo.
I don't have the PostScript file for the logo any more, but it was often included in PostScript files generated from the in-house document creation tool (VAX Document). HP still maintains an archive of papers from the Digital days, so I figured a little archaeology there would yield a logo fossil.
A Google search for the term VMS in PostScript files on hp.com provided a direct hit: the first result (a paper entitled How the RDB/VMS Data Sharing System Became Fast) had the Digital logo font in it. Digging deeper, it turns out I was really lucky: very few of the papers on the site had the logo.
The logo I made was actually a font (Type 3, meaning the characters were defined with PostScript code). Back in 1987 I went to the graphic design group and got the largest photographic master of the logo they had. I scanned them, then used an early version of Adobe Illustrator to create the curves.
Here's the historical summary I included in the font file:
The font I retrieved from the research report had none of the commentary, but here is the code (declogo17.ps):
I don't remember encoding the path in that tricky way: the printed copy I have of the code was much lengthier. Updated: Alert reader Peter Weaver sent along a copy he found of the earlier version: declogo11.ps.
To draw with the font, I added this code:
Hopefully, these will satisfy the needs for Digital logo fans. If you need anything more, let me know!