Bitstream Inc.

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Bitstream Inc.
TypePublic (NasdaqBITS)
IndustryType foundry, mobile phone web browsers
FounderMatthew Carter
Mike Parker Edit this on Wikidata
DefunctMarch 19, 2012 (2012-03-19)
FateAcquired by Monotype
HeadquartersMarlborough, Massachusetts, United States
Key people
Amos Kaminski, Chairman and Interim CEO
Number of employees
96[1] Edit this at Wikidata

Bitstream Inc. was a type foundry that produced digital typefaces. It was founded in 1981 by Matthew Carter and Mike Parker among others. It was located in Marlborough, Massachusetts. The font business, including MyFonts, was acquired by Monotype Imaging in March 2012.[2][3] The remainder of the business, responsible for Pageflex and Bolt Browser, was spun off to a new entity named Marlborough Software Development Holdings Inc.[4][5] It was later renamed Pageflex, Inc following a successful management buyout in December 2013.[6]


Bitstream created a library of "classic" fonts (usually under different names for trademark reasons) in digital form (for example, Times Ten as 'Dutch 801'). The Bitstream font collection is most widely used through its inclusion with the CorelDRAW software. The company received extensive criticism for its strategy of cheaply offering digitisations of pre-existing typefaces that it had not designed. While technically not illegal, font designer John Hudson would describe its selling of large numbers of typefaces on CD at discount prices as "one of the worst instances of piracy in the history of type".[7]

Bitstream developed a number of fonts on its own, such as Charter, by Matthew Carter, Iowan Old Style by John Downer and the freeware Bitstream Vera family of fonts.

One of their best known fonts is Swiss 721 BT, which is a Helvetica clone with condensed versions and a rounded version. It was among the first digitally available Swiss family typefaces, being designed for that purpose in 1982.

Another Bitstream product is Font Fusion, a font rasterizing engine developed jointly with Type Solutions, Inc., which was later owned entirely by Bitstream.[8]

The[which?] multi-byte character set was named Bitstream International Character Set (BICS).


The company had a high level of involvement in BeOS, with older BeOS releases using a Bitstream renderer, and the latest development releases from 2001 using Font Fusion. The OS, including its freeware releases, included a large number of Bitstream fonts, including their clones of Times New Roman, Helvetica and Courier.

On December 2, 1998, Bitstream Inc. announced acquisition of all outstanding stock of Type Solutions, Inc. In addition, Sampo Kaasila, its founder and president and the creator of TrueType, agreed to join Bitstream's team as Director of Research and Development.

In March 2000, Bitstream launched MyFonts, an open marketplace offering fonts from various foundries.[citation needed]

In January 2009, Bitstream introduced the BOLT Browser, a Java ME-based Web browser for mobile phones. It was distributed free of charge to consumers and was built using the company's ThunderHawk mobile Web browsing technology for mobile network operators and handset manufacturers. The product was discontinued by the end of 2011.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Company Profile for Bitstream Inc (BITS)". Archived from the original on 2009-04-27. Retrieved 2008-10-21.
  2. ^ "Monotype Closes Purchase Of Bitstream's Font Business For $50 Mln; Lifts FY View". Market Headlines web site. NASDAQ. 2012-03-19. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
  3. ^ "Monotype Imaging Completes Acquisition of Bitstream's Font Business". press release. Monotype Imaging. 2012-03-19. Archived from the original on 2012-04-08. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
  4. ^ "Monotype acquires Bitstream's font business in $50m all cash deal". PrintWeek. Haymarket Business Media. 2011-11-14. Archived from the original on 2012-05-02. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
  5. ^ "Marlborough Software Development Holdings Inc. to Commence Trading on Over-The-Counter Bulletin Board on March 19, 2012 Under the Symbol "MBGH."". press release. Bitstream, Inc. 2012-03-16. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
  6. ^ "Marlborough Software Development Holdings Inc. Acquired in Management-Led Buyout | Business Wire". 9 December 2013. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  7. ^ Devroye, Luc. "Bitstream". Type Design Information Page. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  8. ^ "Bitstream". Web site. Bitstream, Inc. 2010-03-02. Retrieved 2010-03-02.
  9. ^ "Bolt WebBrowser about page". the about page for the Bitstream, Inc. 2 February 2009. Retrieved 1 February 2023.