At some point in time, the various Linuxes out there decided that the large, blocky, easy-to-read console (as in Virtual Console, not Terminal Emulator) fonts should be replaced with tiny, hard-to-read fonts that make it a chore to edit standard 80-column scripts/source/config files in vim.
Experimenting with various grub and kernel options to change the resolution, fix i915.modeset, and so forth make for a lot of rebooting to get things just right.
Enter the Debian console-setup package. This provides a wizard that ultimately calls setfont and stty to configure the Linux Virtual Consoles.
The dialog-based wizard is invoked via sudo dpkg-reconfigure console-setup . Each screen is simple enough to navigate on its own; however, the following selections will configure the consoles to display an old, 90s-to-early-oughts style of font:
1. UTF-8 [default, just press ENTER]
2. Combined - Latin; Slavic Cyrillic; Greek [default]
The result should produce a nice 80 column x 25 row vim display that is visible from halfway across the room (and to old geezers a few inches away). Chuck it on a Macbook air to really get some double-takes from passers by.