These are some early letter sketches for Gill Sans, drafted between 1928 and 1933. (More photos are available at Eye Magazine’s site.) These chunky letters went on to star in some of the most iconic logos and advertisements in history, not least of which is this:
These typefaces look different because the sketches were for a different member of the Gill Sans family — “Extra Heavy Condensed Titling,” to be specific. But they share the same basic shape and structure.
Most major fonts were either designed before the computer age or based on a typeface that was. It’s amazing when you really think about it: the lettering used in our computers in our mobile devices, in our books and magazine and ads and product labels, can more often than not trace its ancestry to some dead British or German guy’s drafting desk.