The original inspiration for Fontname was Frank Mittelbach and Rainer Schoepf's article in TUGboat 11(2) (June 1990), which led to my article in TUGboat 11(4) (November 1990), pages 512–519. Mittelbach wrote another article criticizing the scheme below in TUGboat 13(1) (April 1992), pages 51–53; most of his points are well-taken, but I saw no alternative then, and see no alternative now. Others of his points are addressed in the appropriate sections below.
In August 1995, Fontname version 2 was released, concomitantly with a new release of the PostScript fonts for use with LaTeX and Dvips. After several years of experience, several modifications of the original distribution seemed desirable: more precise specification of encodings (see Variants); machine-readable mapping files (the *.map files in the distribution) and standardizing directory names as well as font filenames (included in supplier.map and typeface.map).
In Fontname version 1, some encoding variant characters (‘0’, ‘2’, etc.) have been reassigned to a ‘7’ or ‘8’ sequence (see Variants). Although this is an incompatible change, the advantages of (1) consistency in naming encoding variants, and (2) having some free variants makes it worthwhile. Also, not so coincidentally, new metrics for PostScript fonts in the Cork encoding were issued—same encoding, different metrics. So a new name served a practical purpose as well.
Many people have contributed to this work. In particular, I gratefully acknowledge Nelson Beebe, Barbara Beeton, Rocky Bernstein, Thierry Bouche, Damian Cugley, Berthold K.P. Horn, Alan Jeffrey, Russell Lang, Pierre MacKay, Sebastian Rahtz, Jean Rivlin, and Tom Rokicki.