The legend of Prince’s custom-font symbol floppy disks

Posted on by Guy Cookson

Prince floppy disk

In the early 1990s, when Prince changed his name to a symbol, every major media outlet received a disk containing the custom font so they could review his next record.

From New York Magazine:

The font idea, according to Chuck Hermes, who worked on the Paisley Park graphic-design team, came out of internal frustration. “It just seemed like a logical thing to do,” Hermes told me over the phone today. “Everybody was having a hard time. He didn’t even want us to be calling him Prince in person. Part of it was, there was this glyph, this symbol that we didn’t know how to pronounce, and he wasn’t giving us any clues.”

“So we had to start communicating, we were just writing the symbol freehand,” he said. “It started out as we just did it for ourselves. We needed some way to be efficiently communicating with this name that we couldn’t type on a keyboard.”

Steve Parke, who worked with Prince at the time, helped mail out the floppy disks. “He basically wanted people to start using that for his name in journalism,” Parke recalled, “and — I gotta be honest with you — I was like, ‘huh.’ I just remember when started I looking at those things I was like, ‘Really? I wonder how that’s gonna play out.’”

It worked out pretty well. “I just remember maybe six months later,” Parke noted, “looking through Rolling Stone one time and seeing that symbol and I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s pretty impressive.’” After all, could any other artist convince a major music publication to integrate a custom font?

“How many people can just say ‘Hey, I’m changing my name to this symbol so can you use it from now on?’ and everyone’s like ‘Alright. Okay. No questions asked. You’re Prince! We’ll do it!’ It was kind of funny to me.”

Rest in peace in Prince, we’ll miss you.

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