Skip to main content
ECAL, Sophie Wietlisbach (eds.)

Impact Type

Manufacturing Type for Typewriters in Switzerland, 1941–1997

English edition

Book design: Sophie Wietlisbach
ca. 240 pages, ca. 180 images, 16 × 24 cm, softcover

Euro [D] 29.–, Euro [A] 29.90

Pre-order. Release date: October 2024
ISBN 978-3-03863-088-3

CHF   29.00

• History and significance of the Swiss typewriter type manufacturers by Caractères SA, Setag, and Novatype

• A Swiss history of industry and typography – beautifully illustrated with numerous previously unpublished documents

• #5 of the Visual Archives series, in cooperation with ECAL

Between the 1940s and the 1990s, three north-western  Swiss companies manufactured type for typewriters in Switzerland: Caractères SA, Setag, and Novatype. For more than fifty years, they supplied the largest producers of office machines in Europe and around the world, such as IBM, Remington, Olivetti, Paillard-Hermès, and Triumph-Adler.

The three manufacturers, who held a leading position  worldwide, played an essential role in the design,  development, and production of type components and typefaces for typewriters as well as for all sorts of impact printers.
The distinctive aesthetic of typewriter fonts has had a significant impact that continues to be felt in today’s typography. This publication examines the historical and technological context of typewriter typefaces in detail, along with portraits of Caractères SA, Setag, and Novatype for a better understanding of the global typeface industry. Rich illustrations accompany the archival research and interviews that outline a history of design and industry.

When the three Swiss companies closed in the 1990s, most of their archives were destroyed. Therefore, this research quickly turned into a very precise investigation to document this period of history using primary sources. Bringing together documents and information collected over several years of research in numerous locations, this book contains unpublished images and illuminates a little-known chapter of industrial and typographic history on a national and international level.

With texts by
Sophie Wietlisbach, Davide Fornari and a preface by Roland Früh.

About the editors

Sophie Wietlisbach works as a independent graphic and type designer in Fribourg, focusing on editorial design, type design, and illustration. She graduated in Visual Communication from the Bern Academy of the Arts (HKB), followed by a master’s degree in Type Design from the ÉCAL/University of Art and Design Lausanne in 2020. From 2020 to 2022, she worked as a teaching assistant for the master’s degree program Type Design at ECAL and is currently involved in several design research projects.

Sophie Wietlisbach est graphiste et dessinatrice de caractères indépendante à Fribourg. Son travail est axé sur le design éditorial, lla typographie et l’illustration. Elle a étudié la communication visuelle à la Haute école des arts de Berne (HKB) et a obtenu en 2020 un master en Type Design à l’ECAL/École cantonale d’art de Lausanne. De 2020 à 2022, elle a travaillé comme assistante d’enseignement pour le Master en Type Design à l’ECAL et participe actuellement à plusieurs projets de recherche en design.

These books may interest you too: