As mentioned in a previous post, I am working on a project to re-create all Apple-1 manuals (and the first full-page ad as a bonus).
Today, I have received the first test printings of the Preliminary Apple Basic Users Manual, (nice paper, saddle stiched and all) and I am very happy with the outcome (see picture below: To the left: A reprint from scans available online. To the right: A complete typesetting redesign from scratch). Mind you: This is not just another printout of the scans that are available online: This is a complete re-creation of the manual from scratch taking care that the reprint is as accurate to the real thing as humanly possible. In other words: I used modern DTP software (InDesign) to recreate the manual:
Looks nice, doesn't it. Unfortunately, it is not correct. I found out today that the cover looked differently and that I have taken a recreation of the original cover to make my re-creation. But I have now found a better scan and have adjusted the cover so it resembles the original more closely.
Anyway. Just like the first full-page ad which I already recreated, the Basic Manual was not a very difficult task as the typeface could be easily identified as a standard Courier. Also, the content had been originally created (probably) with a monospace typewriter, so recreating this was a pretty straightforward job. The ad, on the other hand, (almost) was a complete typeset job which made the task of recreating it not too hard either.
So far, so good.
Then, I started with the Operating Manual. Completely different story, that is. It starts with the fact that I could not find out which typeface the content was made of. The cover was fairly easy: "Volta" for the "Operating Manual" bit and a standard Helvetica for the address just below. Easy, peasy.
But: I could not identify the typeface of the main content of the manual. After lots of research, I got the crucial hint on Typography Guru: A user pointed out that the content of the manual probably has not been created using typesetting but had been typed on an IBM Executive Typewriter. Usually, the typefaces for those old typewriters are not available as computer fonts (like OTF or TTF), but I was lucky: A German typesetter converted the "Executive" typeface to the digital world.
BUT: The IBM Executive Typewriter is a non-proportional typewriter. Unlike their monospace brothers and sisters, these (very expensive back then) monsters were used to create the "illusion" of a proper typeset job using different character width units. Without going into more details, this means: There is no way I just can use that font on a computer, copy/paste the original text into a frame in InDesign and expect the thing to look like the original. Not even close. It immediately became clear: If I want to reproduce this manual the way I visioned it, I would have to position each and every single character … … manually.
And this is what I started doing. The next picture shows the process: I take the best scan I can find and put it in the background as a reference. On top of the scan I place text frames where I position the copy (yes, including the kerning for each single character) until it is exactly "over" the background:
In the example above you will see that the first lines look pretty good already (the black text matches the underlying background original) while the other lines (starting from the cursor position) show significant differences in character position.
I am not sure whether you can imagine what kind of a tedious job this is. I think this will take me from a few days to a few weeks, especially if I want to recreate all of the schematics that are in the manual. But maybe I will concentrate on the copy for the time being.
If people are interested, I will post updates on the progress of this project. At this time I think this project is proof that I am going slightly mad but maybe there are other people in their 40ies, 50ies, 60ies and beyond out there that will appreciate what I am doing.