It was 50 years ago that Helvetica, the most famous and popular typefaces in the world, was born.
The BBC site has a nice article celebrating the 50th birthday of Helvetica. The article looks at the typeface’s rise to popularity from the view points of both fans and critics alike. It even briefly touches on why people tend to choose the type they use and the strong visceral reaction some of these fonts cause. In all, it’s a good quick read on Helvetica and type in general.
(The comments are fun, including a number of really bad jokes, with a lot of people suddenly embarrassed that they are part of a discussion about something this trivial.)
Coming back to Helvetica, the font lends an air of lucid efficiency to any typographic message with its clean, no-nonsense shapes. It was originally called Haas Grotesk, and was designed in 1957 by Max Miedinger for the Haas’sche Schriftgiesserei (Haas Type Foundry) in Switzerland.
Linotype says: “In 1960 the name was changed to Helvetica (an adaptation of “Helvetia”, the Latin name for Switzerland). Over the years, the Helvetica family was expanded to include many different weights, but these were not as well coordinated with each other as they might have been.
In 1983, D. Stempel AG and Linotype re-designed and digitized Neue Helvetica and updated it into a cohesive font family. Today, the original Helvetica family consists of 34 different font weights, and the Neue Helvetica family consists of 51 font weights. The Helvetica family now forms an integral part of many digital printers and operating systems and has become a stylistic anchor in our visual culture. It is the quintessential sans serif font, timeless and neutral, and can be used for all types of communication.”
There is a film directed by Gary Hustwit called Helvetica, which had it’s world premiere at South by Southwest in March, 2007. Helvetica is a feature-length independent film about typography, graphic design and global visual culture.
Helvetica is anyday one of my favourite fonts.
- 50 years since Helvetica showed its face by Andrew Hoyem
- Helvetica: The little typeface that leaves a big mark
- For logo power, try helvetica
- Helvetica at 50: “Ya don’t look a day over 25.”
- The Scourge of Arial: Arial has a rather dubious history and not much character. In fact, Arial is little more than a shameless impostor.