Time for a little history. In the late ’70s, John Warnock helped to create a technology called Interpress while at Xerox PARC. Using lines and “splines”, the page description language could rasterize images on-the-fly, allowing scaling, rotating and other transformations. Warnock soon left Xerox and co-founded Adobe, taking the technology with him. Interpress would become PostScript, the language that spawned Type 1 fonts, the first standard for digital typography. Warnock and Adobe are credited with making possible the output of scalable type.
But scientist William Donelson recalls creating spline-based fonts years earlier. At Folklore.org, the website devoted to Macintosh nostalgia, Donelson describes how he developed a similar concept while working with Bob Sproull at the National Institutes of Health in 1971. There are no hard feelings, though. When Donelson met Warnock he gave it to him gently, saying “John, don’t worry. I had an idea 18 years ago, and you and Adobe did all the real work.”
Some of Donelson’s original work is cited in his 1978 SIGGRAPH article, Spatial Management of Information. He also tells me about his experience creating anti-aliased type long before it became a PC standard:
I was the first that I know of to generate anti-aliased bitmap fonts, at the Architecture Machine Group of MIT (now the Media Lab) in 1973. We used 2-bits (4 gray levels) to de-jaggy the fonts which were captured via a video camera and hand edited. I also tried an automated anti-aliasing system, but hand-editing turned out the best.