In the history of writing we see a development from logographic writing (with thousands of different characters) via syllabic writing (with still fifty to several hundreds of signs) to alphabetic writing, for which only 20 to 40 different letters need to be learned. Apparently people never felt the need to simplify their writing system even further, maybe because learning 26 letters is already pretty simple, compared to learning to read and write. However, one more evolutionary step could have been made...
The letters of the Latin alphabet can be arranged more or less phonemically in the 26 visible cells of a 3*3 cube (cf Rubik's cube):
Front to Back:
Layer 1 (voiceless consonant): PTK-FSH-WLJ
Layer 2 (vowel&double consonant): IQU-Y*O-EXA
Layer 3 (voiced consonant): BDG-VZC-MNR
Left to Right:
Layer 1 (front&labial): PFW-IYE-BVM
Layer 2 (dental-alveolar): TSL-Q*X- DZN
Layer 3 (back&palatal-glottal): KHJ-UOA-GCR
Up to Down:
Layer 1 (close&plosive): PTK-IQU-BDG
Layer 2 (fricative): FSH-Y*O-VZC
Layer 3 (open&sonorant): WLJ-EXA-MNR
Obviously, some concessions had to be made: the C for instance, is not a fricative when it represents a K-sound, and is certainly not voiced. Moreover, letters are also used for other phonemes, especially in other languages than English. In Dutch for instance, the G is a voiced fricative and should be in the place of the C.
The arrangement results in a writing system with only 3 letters and 4 diacritics, as becomes clear when using the (lower case of the) font. On which axis to use letters and on which diacritics, is of course arbitrary. In the arrangement chosen here, a vowel is always an o.
We can make the claim that this is the smallest possible alphabet that remains readable. We could of course get rid of one of the 3 letters, but then some Latin letters would have to be represented by diacritics only.
In fact, what we're doing here is represent each Latin letter by a 3-digit ternary number: each digit is a variable that can have 3 different values, so there are 27 possibilities. The only way to make a smaller alphabet is by using binary; but if each variable could have only 2 values, more variables would be needed, so we would get letters with 3 or more diacritics.
A totally different way of representing the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet, following the same principle, is shown in the upper case. This writing system uses more space and is more abstract, but the ternary character is even clearer.
0=1-1 2=3-1 4=3+1 5=9-3-1 6=9-3 7=9-3+1 8=9-1
Renaissance-style Italic font, with straight capitals & old style numerals. The lower case letters are designed within a dot matrix, albeit slanted; with the uppercase letters I have deviated from this, in order to create well-proportioned Roman capitals.
The VTech PreComputer 7000GTX is a notebook-like learning computer, with many teaching activities, a very simple word processor and spreadsheet, and introductory computer programming in BASIC. It contains a large dot matrix LCD screen (approx. 240*100). A large font is used in the main menu and some games, a smaller bold font in headings and quizzes. The font presented here is used for plain text and fits within a 5*7 matrix.
The font of computers of the VGA generation, well known from DOS and WordPerfect 5.1 in the late 80's and early 90's, now in a 5x7 matrix (with some descenders). Set your word processor to bold.This is a clone
Some minor modifications to the great work of Lex Kominek. A mirrors V, top bar of E & F is smaller, some serifs are smaller, C & G are wider, as are H & N in upper case, etcetera.This is a clone