Hanzi, From Print to Screen
Open your smartphone’s default Chinese-language input system and start typing. Odds are the text will display in simple, clear, somewhat blocky typeface. This is Heiti, a relatively young category of typefaces — but already the default on digital devices around the world.
The tale of how that came to pass is not your typical “China story.” It involved designers, scientists, and bureaucrats from China to Japan, even Massachusetts, collaborating and competing for over a century. The result of their work is something once thought impossible: bringing Hanzi into the digital world.
This is the second edition of Undertone China, a video series exploring the untold history of how China’s connections with the world made it what it is today.
Reporter: Xue Haolin; senior producer: Fu Beimeng; camera: Lü Xiao, Fu Beimeng, and Xue Haolin; set design: Ding Yining, Fu Beimeng, and Xue Haolin; animation and motion graphics: Fu Xiaofan and Xue Haolin; story editors: Fu Beimeng, Kilian O’Donnell, and Cai Yineng; copy editor: Matthew Hall; executive producer: Qi Ya; special thanks: Huang Kejian, Liu Yuli, Shanghai Printing Technology Research Institute, Changzhou SinoType Technology Co., and atelierAnchor.