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Byte Magazine covers, 1976–84

Contributed by Stephen Coles on Oct 27th, 2014. Artwork published in
circa 1975
.
    197603.jpg
    Source: http://www.jsommer.com Image via John Sommer. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Byte magazine was an American microcomputer magazine, influential in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s because of its wide-ranging editorial coverage. … From 1975 through 1986 Byte covers usually featured the artwork of Robert Tinney. These covers made Byte visually unique. In 1987 Tinney’s paintings were replaced by product photographs.” — Wikipedia

    The original Byte logo was set in Countdown. In the mid-1980s the mark was modified into a custom set of letters that were more blocky due to squaring off the circular counters.

    See full issues of Byte magazine on the Internet Archive.

    197606.jpg
    Source: http://www.jsommer.com Image via John Sommer. License: All Rights Reserved.
    197701.jpg
    Source: http://www.jsommer.com Image via John Sommer. License: All Rights Reserved.
    197702.jpg
    Source: http://www.jsommer.com Image via John Sommer. License: All Rights Reserved.
    198104.jpg
    Source: http://www.jsommer.com Image via John Sommer. License: All Rights Reserved.
    197903.jpg
    Source: http://www.jsommer.com Image via John Sommer. License: All Rights Reserved.
    198106.jpg
    Source: http://www.jsommer.com Image via John Sommer. License: All Rights Reserved.
    198203.jpg
    Source: http://www.jsommer.com Image via John Sommer. License: All Rights Reserved.
    198204.jpg
    Source: http://www.jsommer.com Image via John Sommer. License: All Rights Reserved.
    198309.jpg
    Source: http://www.jsommer.com Image via John Sommer. License: All Rights Reserved.
    198302.jpg
    Source: http://www.jsommer.com Image via John Sommer. License: All Rights Reserved.
    198402.jpg
    Source: http://www.jsommer.com Image via John Sommer. License: All Rights Reserved.
    198405.jpg
    Source: http://www.jsommer.com Image via John Sommer. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Typefaces

    • Countdown
    • Craw Modern
    • Lydian
    • Univers
    • Helvetica
    • Gill Sans
    • Eurostile

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    13 Comments on “Byte Magazine covers, 1976–84”

    1. Nov 6th, 2014  10:27 pm

      Although the Colin Brignall’s Countdown face (the top version in the example below) is used for headlines in the earlier issues, the letterforms in the original Byte logo (bottom version) are quite a bit different. The counters of the ‘B’ are noticeably smaller and more ovoid. The thinner upright of the ‘Y’ sports a distinct taper. Overall, the details are much looser and inconsistent.

      Comparison of Byte logo set in Countdown typeface and hand-drawn original

      I believe that the logo was certainly based on Countdown, but the version appearing on the magazine covers was hand-drawn and customized by Judy Lee Rehling — who is credited for the design shown on the official Byte t-shirt.

      Byte Magazine t-shirt advertisement

    2. Nov 7th, 2014  9:38 pm

      Yikes. Sorry about that squooshed scan there. My image was obviously too wide for the comment template.

    3. Nov 7th, 2014  11:08 pm

      Thank you, Grant! I didn’t check that as closely as I should have. Great to get name of the designer. I assume she was inspired by Countdown or some other phototype or dry transfer face of the day.

    4. Nov 7th, 2014  11:10 pm

      Are you sure she drew the original logo, though, and not just the repetition design for the t-shirt?

    5. Nov 14th, 2014  10:54 pm

      That’s a good question … I have a couple of feelers out regarding the origin of the logo itself and will post an update if I find anything.

      So, is there any way to fix that image?

    6. Nov 15th, 2014  12:52 pm

      Fixed. There was a weird glitch, sorry about that. Images can have any width.

    7. Dec 2nd, 2014  7:08 am

      Thanks, Florian. That looks much better.

    8. Poppa says:
      May 27th, 2015  7:57 pm

      Anyone know what happened to Judy Lee Rehling?

    9. Scott C says:
      Apr 7th, 2017  9:47 pm

      Does anyone know the typeface used in body text in late 1980s issues of Byte? Its a bit like a thinner Friz Quadrata.

    10. Apr 8th, 2017  7:38 am

      Scott, can you point us to a sample?

    11. Ture Pålsson says:
      Nov 3rd, 2017  11:19 am

      I am not Scott, so I do not know exactly which period he refers to, but the typeface that I associate with mid-to-late-eighties BYTE can be seen here: at the Internet Archive.

      I tried www.identifont.com, and the closest it came up with was ITC Novarese. I, too, would be interested to know exactly what typeface it was that BYTE used, and whether it is available digitally today.

    12. Nov 3rd, 2017  11:40 am

      Ture, thanks for the pointer. I’ll attach a sample from the link you provided (Byte Vol. 11, No. 04, April 1986):

      This is indeed ITC Novarese, designed by Aldo Novarese for ITC in 1980. The headline is in the distinctive italic style, which has upright capitals. ITC Novarese is available in digital form. See also the related ITC Symbol by the same designer (1984).

    13. Ture Pålsson says:
      Nov 5th, 2017  11:07 am

      Thanks for confirming this! It is always tricky to tell from a small sample whether it is indeed the right font, but with your added details about the italics, I guess that nails it!

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