"There is Matthew Carter and then there is the rest of us"
Matthew Carter is often described as the most widely read man in the world being in charge of created one of the most popular and widest used typefaces worldwide. Amongst his clients that are using his fonts you find Time Magazin, AT&T, The New York Times, Wired and many many more. He is unique because he saw and lived a technical revolution and managed to be one of the leading figures in all the time periods.
He has been confronted with type design from early on due to the fact that his father was a type designer. He first studied english at Oxford University but soon decided to switch to type design. He started to study punch cutting for a year in Haarlem at the Joh. Enschedé en Zonen foundry with P.H. Rädisch at the age of 19. Where he designed the semibold version of "Dante". After his return to London he started working independently as a lettering artist and typographic advisor.
One of his first jobs was the logo for the british satirical magazine "Private Eye".
After this he joined Mergenthaler Linotype in Brooklyn, working together with others on appropriating the Linotype Library to phototypesetting which started taking off around that time. While working for Linotype he also got to know Adrian Frutiger which he met in Paris. His typedesigns were a big influence for Carter´s later designs of "Bell" and also "Verdana". One of his biggest project at Linotype was the design of the type for the telephone company Bell. He created the typeface Bell Cenntenial
which was excessivly used in telephone book. It was designed to work on small sizes and with quick printing on cheap paper and thin paper.
Like many of his colleagues he most of the time got a task that had to solve a certain problem. For him it was never about "How it look" it was about "How it works". Which you also can call a very modernist approach to typedesign. There are a few stories that he first was testing the typeface on the real printing presses and the original paper, for example the typeface for Wired magazine, before he did the final decisions. He and a couple of his Mergenthaler colleages left in '81 to start their own and one of the first digital type foundry, Bitstream
. Bitstream was one of the biggest and also first digital type foundry mostly specialized in digitalization of old typefaces. In the early nineties he left Bitstream and started Carter&Cone, another digital typefoundry in collaboration with Cherie Cone, where he still freelances for a large variety of clients.
In 1994 Microsofts Virginia Howlett approached Matthew Carter with the goal to create an Typeface which will provide perfect readability on the screen. A font entirely designed for display use.