Max Miedinger, a Swiss typeface designer famous for creating the Heue Haas Grotesk typeface based on Akzidenz-Grotesk in 1957, which was later renamed Helvetica in 1960. This all came about in 1956 when Edouard Hoffmann, of the Haas Type Foundry in Switzerland, decided that a more natural typeface like Akzidenz Grotesk nedded to be refined for a new century. Under the guidance of Hoffmann, Max Miedinger drew the new typeface and released Heue Haas Grotesk publicly.
At the later date of 1960, Stempel, the parent company of the Haas Type Foundry decided to market the san serif font to Germany and change the name to Helvetica. Hoffmann and Miedinger resisted the change because it sounded like the Latin word for Switzerland, “Helvetia.” However Stempel put therefoot down and forced the name change and a star was born.
Helvetica is now one of the most widely used sans-serif typefaces becoming the hallmark of the international typography, making it one of the most popular typefaces of the 20th century. The popularity of this font has seen a wide range of variants formed using different weights, widths and sizes. Notable features of Helvetica as originally designed include the termintation of all strokes on exactly horizontal or vertical lines with unusually tight letter spacing, which gives the typeface a dense more compact appearance.
1964 saw American company Linotype adopted Helvetica as the logotype on all of their equipment. This move light the fuse as companies and designers from all over the world viewed Miedinger’s font as the font that reflected the industrial time period.
Today, Helvetica is shunned by many designers because it is overused due to the fact it has become the default typeface on many desktop publishing software packages. However its only been made the default typeface because its such a reliable, workhorse of type.