The oldest font in Windows

In the past two days I decided to go all-in on a Windows 10 installation to see what it’s capable of and how it can support my workflow. While that experience may be worth another blog post it got me thinking about what is essentially my first operating system.

When Windows first entered my life it was in the very early versions. I remember poking around through MS Dos on our old green and black monitor. What I didn’t know until recently is that the terminal typeface was actually considered a font (although an ugly one in my opinion) called Fixedsys.

Fixedsys is a family of rastermonospaced fonts. The name means fixed system, because its glyphs are monospace or fixed-width (although bolded characters are wider than non-bolded, unlike other monospace fonts such as Courier). It is the oldest font in Windows, and was the system font in Windows 1.0 and 2.0, where it was simply named “System”. For Windows 3.x, the system font was changed to a proportionalsans-serif font named System, but Fixedsys remained the default font in Notepad.


Looking at it now the fonts seems terribly dated. It’s not pretty or elegant, but back in the day it certainly did get the job done. Today I still use the terminal (at least I did on Linux before I nuked it to try Windows 100%) and one of the neat things about modern terminal apps is the ability to customize the look and feel of the terminal. You can change the font! When I do Fixedsys is not one of the choices I go to. I have no sense of nostalgia that encourages me to use this in any of my applications.

What I do instead is appreciate that our computers have evolved, and I’m grateful for the elegance we enjoy today.