The first laser printers had a resolution of 300 dpi* and no hinting.** This meant that a face like Optima (1958), with verticals that become subtly wider at top and bottom, was badly misshapen. Even so, Bitstream wanted a type of this kind and the result was Amerigo. I could see no mileage in simply imitating Optima, but it was a different story with an extension of the class that the Vox*** classification calls ‘incised’ and which includes Albertus (1932). Optima is broad, soft and round, whereas Amerigo is narrower and sharper, with terminals that end wider and a bigger contrast between thick and thin. Optima’s italic is a sloped roman, whereas Amerigo has a genuine italic. Amerigo is not tied to a technology that was soon superseded, and it can also be used in the present high resolutions.
* Dots per inch.
** Hinting is information added to fonts to ensure that at low resolutions the verticals in each individual size are the same width and that other parts also stay the same. *** In 1963 the French typographer Maximilien Vox published his own idiosyncratic type classification system.
Caflisch, M., ‘Bitstream Amerigo von Gerard Unger’, in Typografische Monatsblätter 3, St. Gallen, 1989