WHEN TIMES NEW ROMAN WAS NEW. Until I read this article by Meredith Mann on the New York Public Library blog, I had thought that the Times New Roman typeface was associated with the New York Times. Instead, it is the London Times that was responsible for its creation in 1932. It was created to be “modern” in response to a claim that the existing Times font was “out-of-touch with modern typographical trends”. In introducing the new font, the Times took note that when the Times was founded, it was read mostly in coffeehouses, and that in the nineteenth century it had been mostly read on trains. When the font was introduced in October, 1932, The Times spoke of its newspaper as being “largely read in cars and airliners”. ( I find this statement to be evidence that The Times was playing up the “modern” use of the new font. I doubt that much of the Times market consisted of airline riders in 1932).
The goals of the new font were efficiency and readability. Meredith Mann shows how this was achieved. The distance between the letters was reduced, using less paper. Legibility was improved by making the thicker parts of letters wider and the intersections of lines thinner.