I added a first pass at uppercase Vietnamese (tiếng Việt) to my IBM 1403 inspired monospace typeface. So, now, what started as a combination of the 52 characters represented by the A & H chains of the IBM 1403 printer has become over 1,500 glyphs supporting most languages that use the Latin, Cyrillic, Greek, and Hebrew alphabets, including the recent addition of Vietnamese glyphs. It’s difficult to find example output, photographs, or actual print chains of the IBM 1403, especially beyond the initial English alphabet.
It looks like there was a Vietnamese print chain designed, as mentioned in Data Processing Goes to War with IBM’s Bachelor Computer Experts by Dan Feltham. I reached out to him, as I did with Jóhann Gunnarsson to see the Icelandic chains, to see if he has samples or can describe how it compared to other chains. There is some description of the process for integrating Vietnamese with the IBM 1401 and designing the 1403 print chain by Curt Maxwell and background information on the IBM customer USAID in Dan Feltham’s book When Big Blue Went to War: The History of the IBM Corporation’s Mission in Southeast Asia During the Vietnam War (1965-1975) (Amazon). Here’s Dan’s page about the book. Some additional research shows that the Vietnamese print chain may be based on the TN “text” chain (basically, Courier), but with new slugs design and code to allow overprinting for more rare diacritic marks. Dan will also be putting me in contact with some of the other SEs and CE involved in the project in Vietnam in the late 1960s. Thanks, Dan! And check out his book; it looks interesting!
Again, as mentioned in the previous Cyrillic, Greek, and Hebrew update, the translations have not yet been verified. Here’s an updated sample of the soon-to-be-released 1403 Vintage Mono Pro all uppercase typeface.
The website/storefront design is in-progress. I’m also getting ready for my TypeCon (@typecon) presentation Resurrecting Type of the IBM 1403; it’ll be on Friday, 23 August 2013, at 3:25pm in Portland, Oregon, USA.
Update: 21 November 2013: The 1403 Vintage Mono Pro typeface has been released and is now available for licensing, going from 52 glyphs to over 1,500, supporting 140+ languages across Latin, Cyrillic, Greek, and Hebrew scripts.