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Introduction Along with Times New Roman, Helvetica is the world’s most successful typeface, being the default face on many computer programs and the logotype for a large and diverse number of international brands. In 1957, Edouard Hoffman of the Hass typefoundry in Munchenstein, Basel, Switzerland wanted a new sans-serif design to improve upon the 19thcentury German sans-serif Akzidenz Grotesk, which was used extensively at the time. Max Miedinger, an in-house designer at Haas drew the new face, which with its geometric precision and monoweighted strokes embodied the design philosophy of the Swiss style. It’s original name was Neue Haas Grotesk. After the German company Stempel took over the new face, it became Helvetica facilitating its international marketing, as the original Swiss face (since the name is derived from Helvetia, the Latin for Switzerland). It became famous as the face with no distinguishing features, ideal for every kind of usage, which explains its ubiquitous presence nowadays. It’s the logotype for Lufthansa, Toyota, Target, The North Face, and it’s also the type used in the IRS tax forms and the signage for the NYC subway system, among many others.


Typeface Family

History Developed at the Haas typefoundry in Münchenstein, Switzerland, to compete with the sans-serif typeface Akzidenz Grotesk, it has succeeded in becoming the most popular typeface in the world. It was originally named "Neue Haas Grotesk", but was renamed Helvetica (from the Latin name for Switzerland) by the German Stempel foundry when they produced versions in 1961. Helvetica was developed in 1957 by Max Miedinger with Eduard Hoffmann at the Haas'sche Schriftgiesserei (Haas Type Foundry) of Münchenstein, Switzerland. Haas set out to design a new sans-serif typeface that could compete with the successful Akzidenz-Grotesk in the Swiss market. Its design was based on Schelter-Grotesk and Haas’ Normal Grotesk. The aim of the new design was to create a neutral typeface that had great clarity, no intrinsic meaning in its form, and could be used on a wide variety of signage. When Linotype adopted Neue Haas Grotesk (which was never planned to be a full range of mechanical and hot-metal typefaces) its design was reworked. After the success of Univers, Arthur Ritzel of Stempel redesigned Neue Haas Grotesk into a larger family. In 1960, the typeface's name was changed by Haas' German parent company Stempel to Helvetica in order to make it more marketable internationally.