The Democratization of Typography
Since the European invention of the printing press, traditionally attributed to Gutenberg in 1451, type design or typography has progressed relatively slowly over the centuries, until the past century. At one time a highly skilled profession, requiring a lengthy apprenticeship to learn the craft, type design has been revolutionized by the accessibility of inexpensive font design software. The result has been an exponential proliferation of typeface designs and fonts.
The OpenType Format
Thanks to Adobe Systems, we now have PostScript technology that allows the ability to use mathematical descriptions of type outlines that can be scaled to any size. Adobe has been converting all their fonts to a new format that they have developed that finally does away with cross-platform compatibility problems, called OpenType. The primary benefit is the ability to access more than 256 characters within a single font file. This allows for greater typographic control and features, including automatic application of ligatures, small caps, lining and old style figures, and character variants.
The OpenType format provides a flexibility that did not exist with the older TrueType and PostScript formats, and this was enough of an incentive for me to invest in the purchase of a license for the Adobe OpenType Collection, with over 2900 typefaces.