Requiem for PostScript, EPS and the Magic of Type 1 Fonts

[Update: The original version of this tribute mentioned Quark Express as the first Desktop Publishing app. It was actually Aldus Pagemaker. I knew this, but forgot. Sorry.]

An era has ended.

With the release of macOS Sonoma, Apple has removed the ability to convert PostScript and EPS files to PDF format. This means that you are no longer able to display, convert or print EPS files.

Apple’s release notes state: “”As a result, CoreGraphics’ CGPSConverter returns an error when invoked, ImageIO no longer converts EPS files, NSEPSImageRep does not display EPS files, and PMPrinterPrintWithFile does not accept a PostScript file for non-PostScript print queues.”

Essentially, both PostScript and EPS have been replaced by PDF, which like them, is a resolution-independent (i.e. not bitmapped) way to display images and text.

BIG NOTE: If you need to access legacy EPS files, convert them to PDF BEFORE upgrading to macOS Sonoma (version 14). Or, save a computer running an earlier version of the macOS to process conversions.

The end of PostScript has been a long time coming, but it is no less sad for marking the end of a glorious beginning.

In March 1985, the Apple LaserWriter was the first printer to ship with PostScript. This, along with the Macintosh and Aldus Pagemaker, launched the “Desktop Publishing Revolution.” This confluence of computer hardware and software revolutionized graphics design and printing and served to springboard the Mac into its leadership role among creatives.

It is no understatement to say that PostScript began the transition of the creative arts from analog to digital – which accelerated with digital video and which we now see exploding into all the forms of AI.

As for Type 1 fonts, before PostScript, fonts were individual sets of bitmaps, fixed in size and resolution, stored on your computer and requiring lots of disk space. The most popular printers in those days were dot matrix, which printed like typewriters by firing tiny metal pins against a cloth ribbon and forming characters out of a pattern of dots on the paper.

Several companies, such as Bitstream, specialized in creating high-quality bitmapped fonts for dot matrix and early laser printers, such as those from HP.

NOTE: Or, you could be even more limited to the different options stored on IBM Selectric type balls, where a metal sphere the size of a golf ball contained a single size of a single weight of a single font. You could only use one ball at a time.

PostScript changed all that. Type 1 PostScript described fonts mathematically. Fonts  could now be printed at any size, any resolution, any printer – even printing presses – that supported PostScript. Font file sizes shrank from massive bitmap collections to microscopic PostScript descriptions. The design world exploded with a typographic creativity never seen before and it has never looked back.

As is always the case, the world of today is built upon the shoulders of giants.

As AppleInsider noted, “PostScript’s demise on the Mac shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who’s been paying attention. The writing has been on the wall for years, as Apple has slowly dismantled support for PostScript in successive macOS releases.”

Perhaps, we shouldn’t be shocked, but, still, its passing is significant. Developers and security folks are pleased that PostScript is going away. It is insecure and easily hacked.

But, as someone who discovered the magic of computers through the power of PostScript, and built a career doing creative things on Macs, this end of an era deserves special mention.

Goodbye PostScript. You were a true star that built industries, redesigned the world and changed lives. You shall be missed.

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12 Responses to Requiem for PostScript, EPS and the Magic of Type 1 Fonts

  1. ian white says:

    Having started my design career in the 1980s, I fully realise just how much John Warnock and Charles “Chuck” Geschke changed the visual design industry in ways that still reverberate today. True pioneers. They, and their original work, are of significant historical importance. Thank you for remembering them.

    • Larry says:


      I had the great privilege to work at Bitstream in the mid-1980’s. The explosion of PostScript fonts, the competition with Adobe, and the creative regeneration in design I was part of was unique. It gave me my love of fonts and the opportunity to rub shoulders with world-class type designers like Matthew Carter and Cherrie Cone. It was an amazing time.


  2. mike janowski says:

    Keeping older Macs, with older OS, is always sage advice.

  3. Eric Dean Freese says:

    Does this mean that Illustrator will not be able to open and convert EPS files as well?

  4. Tim Roth says:

    Hi Larry, nice tribute! One point of clarification though – Aldus PageMaker was the first DTP software. QXP came along a couple years later. Jonathon Seybold, a publishing industry titan at the time, connected the dots with what he knew was going on at Apple with the Mac and LaserWriter, at Adobe with PS, and Aldus with PM. Shortly thereafter, the revolution began.

    • Larry says:


      ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!!! Sigh… Thanks.

      I worked in marketing for Jonathan for a year, when his office was still in Malibu. He was a brilliant guy. And PageMaker was the first. I’ll change my tribute.

      Thanks for the correction.


  5. Al B. says:

    I know you Silicon Valley folks think you invented desktop publishing but let’s not forget Seattle based Paul Brainerd who was instrumental in developing and co-founding PM. He also coined the term “Desktop Publishing”. His philanthropy has been incredibly influential in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere.

    • Larry says:


      I haven’t forgotten Paul Brainerd at all – notice my addition of PageMaker to this tribute. I had the pleasure to meet him twice, but never worked for him. His creation and support of PageMaker was seminal in launching desktop publishing.


  6. jim McQuaid says:

    I remember doing a manual (on the ADSP0-2100 DSP chip) with PageMaker on a porthole Mac with Hyperdrive. Cool thing was that a typesetting house in Providence also had the new Postscript processor and so I could proof on the Laserwriter and still deliver high quality masters to the printer.

    Though I am feeling a strange sensation reflecting on this. I think people call this sensation “getting old.”

  7. James says:

    Really enjoyed the article and all the great posts! Cheers All!

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