Behind every hilarious meme is its recognizable font — bold, capitalized, in white and outlined with black. The font is called “Impact,” and has a rich history. It’s actually one of the core fonts of the internet and was originally created back in 1965, made by Geoff Lee using hand-cut metal. Famous for its legibility over images, it was the ideal font for memes. Not only that, but it was impactful. Head over to vox to read its entire expose on the much-loved font and its journey into the depths of the interwebs.
As the digital age began, Impact got key placement thanks, in part, to the dissolution of the firm that commissioned the typeface. Impact was Stephenson Blake’s second-to-last typeface. As the firm slowly shifted its focus away from type, it divvied up digital rights among former competitors. Impact ended up in the hands of Monotype. Monotype, in turn, licensed key fonts to Microsoft.
The lead for Impact built off a key decision in 1996, when Impact became one of the “core fonts for the web” — a Microsoft-curated attempt at a standard font pack that would work across the internet. Impact built off that lead when it was included in the market-dominating Windows 98 operating system, while some close competitors weren’t. Though Arial Black and the much-maligned Comic Sans provided some competition, neither was quite as legible over images.