Issue 17: Mar 2002






ACE: World Exclusive


Have Atari users got a future?


I want my AEX!


Tip of the day


Get Calamus Fonts Without Selling the House


The Current State of the Desktop Publishing Art


Reader Profiles: Markus Binder


Atari GmbH




Atari Emulation -
Part 2



[Christoph's Design Corner banner]
Get Calamus Fonts Without Selling the House


When I first worked with Calamus SL ten years ago, Calamus fonts were a rare thing. Each "CFN" Calamus font was sold for about $50. For a font family with different cuts it would have been up to $700, even. So there were graphic agencies who bought 50 font families for about $20,000 or more.

I very quickly discovered the font converting function in 3K Computerbild's Didot Professional. This was disabled in later versions because DMC went to court against 3K. But I had it and used it. I got some cheesy software by the name of Corel Draw 4, which came with ten gimmicky discs full of EPS graphics (mostly made with Illustrator and Freehand as I found out reading the EPS source) and fonts. Yes, fonts. Real PostScript Type 1 fonts. Wow. I felt like plundering Aladdin's chest.

So I loaded a font in Didot Professional, which read it fine.

[Screen-shot: Didot Pro font load/save dialog]

[Screen-shot: Didot Pro loading PS font]

I saved it as CFN, and there it was, a Calamus font.

[Screen-shot: Saving a Calamus font from Didot Pro]

I thought, "OK, cool. Let's start Calamus". But what is this?

[Screen-shot: Calamus alert box]

"This font is not licensed to be used with Calamus". Argh. Grr. OK. I checked Avant Vector Pro, my favourite vector editor. It read the font without any trouble.

[Screen-shot: ????????]

Lovely. I loaded a freeware font, which was accepted by Calamus, into Avant Vector.

[Screen-shot: Save CFN again] [Screen-shot: Font information dialog]

[Screen-shot: Changing font properties]

The copyright area was different. So I loaded my converted Corel font again and removed the sentence, "PostScript Type 1 font" and checked Calamus. Yes, it went directly into Calamus, but there was no picture in the list of the Calamus font module.

[Screen-shot: Calamus font module]

Well, I asked a friend who was familiar with Typeart and he gave me the hint, "Load the font, and press [Alternate]+[Control] while clicking in the top-left corner".

[Screen-shot: Typeart loading font]

[Screen-shot: Typeart font properties]

[Screen-shot: Close-up of Typeart font properties dialog]

There it was, the menu to make a nice logo for the font. I did it and my converted font looked like any expensive DMC Calamus font.

[Screen-shot: Converted font in Calamus]

Today, Calamus SL2002 can directly read all kinds of fonts, but many Atari programs still only accept Calamus fonts. So it still makes sense for an Atarian to convert fonts. In old times, DMC spread the myth that Calamus fonts were more precise than PostScript fonts. I converted some original URW PostScript Type 1 fonts, which were available from DMC as CFNs too. The font size was identical and when I examined the kerning and single letters, everything was like the CFN version. It was just a myth.

Eight years later, a friend bought a DMC type collection, there were some fonts which were about three times as big. I examined them, and there were many more Bézier curves, but I don't think this will make much more quality.

The Corel Draw 4 fonts were not all good. One third were very good quality, one third needed a little kerning correction with Typeart and the remaining third were really messily vectorized or not even accepted by Didot Pro. In 1995 I bought a Hewlett Packard font CD with 50 fonts for $25. That was "Power Wihout the Price", which every Atari user likes.

[Screen-shot: Modifying the serial number of a Calamus font]

There is a little program called SERIALNO.PRG, which allows you to change the CFN's serial number. When you have Avant Vector Pro, and you want to load an original CFN font with a serial number, Avant Vector refuses to load it. This is because Avant Vector can be used with alternate fonts too, and they didn't want trouble with DMC.

So when I wanted to work with an original CFN font, I had to set the serial number to 000000 for Avant Vector. But Calamus didn't accept the font without a number afterwards. So I had to put the original serial back in it. Or I just saved the zeroed CFN with Avant Vector after loading it, and then it was accepted by Calamus as a free font, because Avant Vector Pro removed a flag from the code of the CFN. This might work with other non-DMC type editors, too. I recommend to zero all fonts, so you can use them with Calamus95 PC/NT, for example, too.

Today the DMC company doesn't exist any more. The right to develop and sell Atari Calamus now belongs to Invers Software, which is a very customer-friendly company. Calamus as whole belongs to MGI.

If you have questions about converting fonts, feel free to send me a mail at

Thanks to Frank Harenberg for the hint with Typeart.

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MyAtari magazine - Feature #6, March 2002


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