Dave Opstad

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David G. Opstad (born c. 1954) is a retired American computer scientist specializing during his career in computer typography and information processing (focusing on character encodings), leading to several breakthroughs. Opstad was a contributor to Unicode 1.0,[1][2][3] together with Joe Becker, Lee Collins, Huan-mei Liao, and Nelson Ng.

Opstad spent much of his career in private industry at Apple, where he contributed to its TrueType font specifications. His work on TrueType GX, although not much used or supported in its own time, formed the basis for OpenType Font Variations as they can be applied to TrueType outline fonts—all OpenType fonts with quadratic Bézier curves.

Opstad is named on several US software patents.[4]


Opstad has a Bachelor of Arts in Chinese and a Master of Library Science from University of California, Los Angeles.[5][6]


Among tech companies Opstad has worked for are Xerox, and Apple; he retired from the industry in 2021, leaving Monotype after more than 16 years.[7]

During his time at Apple, he was responsible for AAT, where he designed (for example) the OpenType Zapf[8] table, named after the type designer Hermann Zapf. In the 1990s, Dave Opstad worked with Tom Rickner and others to develop TrueType GX.[9][10] At that time software producers like Microsoft or Adobe did not implement the necessary support for this new technology, however, TrueType GX would later become the basis of modern variable fonts, (also known as OpenType Font Variations).[11][12]

Besides his work on font standards, Opstad's work on the earliest versions of Unicode—proposing the use of discrete 16-bit character codes (which was later increased, but retained via backwards compatible surrogate pairs), rather than the way that was then common and which he'd grown frustrated with, Xerox's Character Code Standard (XCCS)—led to easy exchange of messages between different computer hardware and operating systems without either mojibake or "tofu" ⟨□; �⟩.[1]


  1. ^ a b Becker, Joseph D. (10 September 1988). "Unicode 88" (PDF). Unicode Consortium (1998 ed.). Archived (PDF) from the original on 25 November 2016. Retrieved 25 October 2016. Unicode arose as the result of eight years of working experience with XCCS. Its fundamental differences from XCCS were proposed by Peter Fenwick and Dave Opstad (pure 16-bit codes), and by Lee Collins (ideographic character unification). Unicode retains the many features of XCCS whose utility have been proved over the years in an international line of communication multilingual system products.
  2. ^ McGowan, Rick (12 February 2009). "Chronology". Unicode Consortium. Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  3. ^ Dvorak, John C. (15 September 1992). "Kiss your ASCII goodbye" (PDF). PC Magazine. p. 93 – via Unicode Consortium Virtual Museum.
  4. ^ Devroye, Luc (23 May 2022). "Dave Opstad". On Snot and Fonts. Montreal, Canada: McGill University School of Computer Science. Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  5. ^ Park, Richard L., ed. (Fall 1972). University of Michigan. "Conferences, Seminars and Symposiums". Asian Studies Professional Review. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Association for Asian Studies, Inc. 2 (1): 67. IA1534329-02 – via Internet Archive.
  6. ^ Chou, Hung-Hsiang; Opstad, David G. (1973). "Computer Matching of Oracle Bone Fragments: A Preliminary Report on a New Research Method". Archaeology. 26 (3): 176–181. ISSN 0003-8113. JSTOR 41685293 – via JSTOR.
  7. ^ Opstad, Dave. "Dave Opstad". LinkedIn. Retrieved 1 June 2022.
  8. ^ Yannis Haralambous, Translated by P. Scott Horne (September 2007). Fonts & Encodings. O´Reilly. p. 848. ISBN 978-0-596-10242-5.
  9. ^ "Variable Fonts: making the promise a reality". Monotype. 28 February 2017.
  10. ^ "This Is Your Text on QuickDraw GX" (PDF). Macworld. December 1994. p. 25. I got the impression that developers like Aldus, Adobe, and Quark are reluctant to implement portions of QuickDrawGX because there is no equivalent technology for Windows.
  11. ^ "fonttools python library". fonttools GitHub repository. 2 December 2021.
  12. ^ "W3C Web Fonts Acknowledgments". W3c. 21 July 1997.

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