FontLab enables users to design, edit, customize and convert fonts. Our current flagship products are FontLab itself, and TransType. Most of the world’s digital fonts were created with FontLab products.
FontLab’s users are all over the globe, and the company itself is equally global: incorporated in Panama, with staff and contractors worldwide, including the USA, Canada, Brazil, Germany, Ukraine, Russia and India.
Company Profile: Fontlab Ltd., Inc.
Fontlab Ltd., Inc. (“FontLab” for short) and its predecessor Pyrus have specialized in the development of digital type design tools since 1992. The FontLab® product line includes FontLab®, Fontographer®, TypeTool™, TransType™, ScanFont™, BitFonter® and FontLab Pad™. FontLab was founded by VP of Engineering Yuri Yarmola, who invented the software, and Ted Harrison. CEO Thomas Phinney joined in 2014 to take over the lead from Harrison, who remains President and Chairman of the Board. Yarmola remains the lead developer of the product to this day, and Adam Twardoch is Director of Products.
The predecessor of Fontlab Ltd. was Pyrus North America Ltd. The company was established in 1992 to internationally market and distribute software produced by SoftUnion Ltd. of St. Petersburg, Russia. In 1993 the first product, FontLab 2.0 for Windows, one of the first digital font editors for Windows, was released. FontLab 2.0 unleashed the creativity of computer-based graphic designers, a then-new and rapidly growing group.
In 1994 SoftUnion developed, and Pyrus released, version 2.5 of FontLab for Windows, which included many new enhancements, including TrueType font editing. This catapulted FontLab to the head of its class as the most sophisticated font editor for Windows. Users were empowered in other areas by ScanFont, a program to help them convert scanned images into font, and FindFont, a utility to find fonts with particular characteristics on the user's hard disk. Both apps were introduced in 1994 and bundled with FontLab 2.5.
In 1995 SoftUnion decided to divest itself of its software business in order to concentrate on hardware. All the rights to FontLab were sold to Pyrus and the SoftUnion programming team. Pyrus retained Yuri Yarmola, head of the original programming group, to continue development of FontLab and related products.
In 1996 Pyrus released two new products: FontLab Composer, a multilingual, multi-platform (Windows, OS/2) international font editor with most of the features of FontLab plus the ability to edit and manipulate CID-keyed fonts of the very large Chinese, Korean, and Japanese character sets; and SigMaker, a simple utility that could add a signature (or vectorized version of any bitmap image) to a TrueType font in only a few steps.
In 1997 Pyrus started a major revision of its product line. This started with the release of one more new product: TypeTool — a basic font editor with transparent, seamless conversion betweenTrueType and Type 1 font formats. In addition, a new version of ScanFont was introduced. ScanFont 3.0 includes a much improved autotracing algorithm which is specialized for the creation of type.
FontLab 3.0 for Windows was finally finished and released in June of 1998 after a complete rewrite. the new version was much faster and more powerful and included many innovative features not found in previous font editors, most notably custom TrueType hinting, VectorPaint drawing tools, and native TrueType (cubic B-spline) font format editing. Localization in European languages was begun.
Late in 1998 Pyrus introduced its first product for the Macintosh platform — a port of FontLab Composer. At the same time both Mac and PC versions of Composer were localized to the Japanese language. This gave Pyrus complete penetration of the China/Japan/Korea font editing market with the only commercially available products.
In early 1999 a flurry of new products was introduced: first was TransType, a Macintosh program for converting fonts seamlessly between Windows and Mac font formats. This was followed two weeks later by FONmaker, a bitmap font editor for the creation of Windows screen fonts, Windows font resources, and HP Soft Fonts for legacy HP printers and applications. Then, in March at the Seybold Spring Seminar in Boston Pyrus announced the complete port of FontLab 3.0 to the Macintosh environment.
In January 2000 a new company, Fontlab Ltd., bought all the assets of Pyrus NA with the intention of further expanding international sales. The new company continues development of the FontLab product line and in 2001 released TransType 2, an upgrade for the font conversion product, and BitFonter, a new product dedicated to the editing and creation of bitmap fonts.
In October 2001 Fontlab also announced the new "photofont" technology, a non-proprietary XML-based specification which allowed users to create text-searchable bitmap fonts for web sites. In December 2001, after 3 years of incubation, FontLab 4 for Windows was released with the first OpenType font editing capability.
After extensive consultation with Asian customers and typographers Fontlab developed and released (in March 2002) AsiaFont Studio for Windows, a new product that combined most of the features of FontLab 4 and FontLab Composer and added many new capabilities to make CJKV font editing faster and easier. Almost simultaneously TransType 2 for Windows, and TypeTool 2 for Windows (also with CJKV) were finished and released.
In 2003-2004, a series of major updates to Fontlab Ltd.'s products were released: FontLab 4.6, ScanFont 4 for Mac and BitFonter 2 for Mac. In May 2005, Fontlab Ltd. amazed the critics and the user community by announcing that the company licensed the Fontographer product line from Macromedia and plans to continue the development of the font editing classic. Later that year saw the release of FontFlasher (for creating pixelfonts) and FogLamp (for converting native Fontographer files into native Fontlab files).
In 2005 the company released version 5 of FontLab Studio, and in 2010 version 5 of Fontographer. Major updates of both programs were released in 2013.
In 2013, Fontlab Ltd. released TransType 4, a complete rewrite of the universal font converter, and the first product in the brand-new “Victoria” product line. In 2014, Fontlab Ltd. released FontLab Pad, a free app that allows Mac OS X and Windows users to use multicolor fonts.
Thomas Phinney joined the company as vice president in May 2014, and succeeded Ted Harrison in October 2015, becoming CEO in 2017.