New Alphabet is a personal, experimental project of Crouwel. The typeface embraces the limitations of the Cathode Ray Tube technology – used by early screens and phototypesetting equipment – and thus only contains horizontal and vertical strokes. Conventional typefaces can suffer under these limitations, because the level of detail is not high enough. Crouwel wanted to adapt his design to work for the new technologies, instead of adapting the technologies to meet the design. Since his letter shapes only contain horizontals and verticals, some of the letters are unconventional, while others are difficult to recognize at all. Because of this, the typeface was received with mixed feelings by his peers.
Most of the letters are based on a grid of 5 by 9 units, with 45-degree corners. There is no differentiation between uppercase and lowercase. Many of his peers were of the opinion that the design was too experimental and that it went too far. So much so, that it got a lot of newspaper coverage, which sparked a lively debate. For Crouwel it was mostly a theoretical exercise, ‘The New Alphabet was over-the-top and never meant to be really used. It was unreadable’