Dave Opstad

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Dave Opstad is one of the co-founders of Unicode 1.0[1], together with Huan-mei Liao, Nelson Ng and Lee Collins). He worked on Apple's TrueType font specifications and holds several patents.[2][3]

Early life and education

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


He worked for IBM, Xerox, Apple Inc. All in all, he ended up with over 50 years of professional experience after he retired from Monotype Imaging in 2020.

During his time at Apple Inc., he was responsible for Apple Advanced Typography, where he designed (for example) the 'Zapf'[4] table, named after the type designer Hermann Zapf. In the 1990s, Dave Opstad (together with people like Thomas Rickner) was initially involved in the development of TrueType GX[5]. This font technology was forraus of its time. But there was a lack of support. At that time software producers like Microsoft or Adobe did not implement the necessary support for this new technology, why it never became a new standard. GX was certainly the basis of variable fonts, (also known as OpenType font variations). Most of the time he worked behind the scenes, yet he was often asked for advice.[6][7]

His fundamental work on Unicode and TrueType enabled easy exchange of messages between different devices and operating systems (without TOFU (also knows as .notdef)) – all over the world.


  1. "Kiss your ASCII goodbye" (PDF). PC MAGAZINE, page 93. September 15, 1992.
  2. "Dave Opstad". luc.devroye.org.
  3. "Google Patents". patents.google.com.
  4. Yannis Haralambous, Translated by P. Scott Horne (September 2007). Fonts & Encodings. O´Reilly. p. 848. ISBN 0-596-10242-9.
  5. "Variable Fonts: making the promise a reality". Monotype. February 28, 2017.
  6. "fonttools python library". fonttools GitHub repository. December 2, 2021.
  7. "W3C Web Fonts Acknowledgments". W3c. July 21, 1997.

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