New Samuel: a font derived from Morse code

[2012-12-16] typography, design, life
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New Samuel is a font by Aurelian Hallhuber that he derived from Morse code (Samuel is one of Morse’s given names).

Creating New Samuel

The following steps were used to create the font:
  1. In Morse code, each of the 26 letters of the basic Latin alphabet is encoded via at most 4 signals (dot or dash). Write those dots and dashes into a 2×2 matrix, starting at the bottom left cell, continuing counter-clockwise.
  2. Create a square whose corners encode what’s in the matrix: If a cell is empty then the corner is a single line (e.g. / for the top left corner). If a cell contains a dot then the corner is round. If a cell contains a dash then the corner is angular.
  3. Add features to these squares to make them recognizable as characters. As a result, you get a font whose characters reflect their Morse code combinations.
The following diagram illustrates the process:

This is the full alphabet:

Morse code signals: more than bits

4-signal morse codes give you
  • more combinations than 4 bits (16), because each combination has varying a length. If you don’t ignore leading zeros, all 4 bit numbers have length 4.
  • less combinations than 4 ternary digits (81), because empty digits cannot appear everywhere, they must be a suffix.
You get 30 combinations: 2 (length 1) + 4 (length 2) + 8 (length 3) + 16 (length 4). Thus, 4 combinations in international Morse code are unused. I’ve written a small JavaScript program that finds those combinations. They are: