In its brief history, digital typography has passed through several formats. Type 1, introduced by Adobe in 1982, at the same time as the company's page description language PostScript, ran into competition from Apple's TrueType in the late 1990s. Both employed the principle of the Bezier curve, which allowed a user to establish the outline of a character and then reproduce it any size imaginable.
The basic alphabet is increasingly accompanied by endless typographic refinements that would have required months for a 15th century punch-cutter to create.
Multiple Masters fonts which were an extension of the PostScript system, featured several designs that, by interpolation, could be used to create others; thus, a half-bold could be interpolated from normal and bold "masters". This format, which appeared to hark back to certain practices of Renaissance punch-cutters – who cut each font separately based on its specific particularities – did not last long. It was replaced by the OpenType format, which appears to be here to stay, and has now become the standard means for creating characters. OpenType allows a very large number of glyphs (several thousand) to be stored in a single file, which greatly facilitates use. "Standard" characters, additional ligatures, small caps, Greek and Cyrillic variants, numbers, alternative designs, etc. are all contained in one file, each with variant designs that can be activated and deactivated at will.
The first mediocre digital fonts gave way to increasingly polished creations with greater and greater functionality – with multiple Garamonds always in their midst.