A visual and oddly political history of the Wingdings font

Mariana Vargas explored the origins of the Wingdings font for UX Collective:

Wingdings, the iconic font composed by… well, icons; became widely popular for being included in many Microsoft Word versions in the ’90s is quite intriguing. It has even been the subject of some conspiracy theories.

Why do we need a font exclusively composed of symbols, such as the Celtic cross, the Zodiac signs, and the star of David? Who came up with that idea? Do people really use it?

And those ‘conspiracy theories’? WIRED published a post about them 11 days after 9/11:

In the last 12 days, conspiracy-related websites and mailing lists have centered considerable attention on an eerie string of graphics that come up when users type the capital letters NYC into a font on Word called Wingdings.

The resultant collection of images — which includes symbols for a skull and crossbones, a Star of David and a thumbs-up sign — has led some to conjecture that the program contains a deliberate anti-Semitic message.

But Microsoft — which investigated the same complaints about the font shortly after it was introduced in 1992 — is once again maintaining that a correlation between the letters and images is merely coincidental.

“To Microsoft’s mind, it’s very unfortunate that people are bringing this up again in light of the tragedy,” said Kimberly Kuresman, a Microsoft spokeswoman.

Kuresman said the company investigated the complaints in conjunction with the Anti-Defamation League nine years ago, but found “no evidence of malicious intent.”

What is it with Microsoft fonts and controversy?

Hi, it's Luke, the editor of Cultrface! Why not subscribe to my Patreon and support the blog?

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