The history of Helvetica, by Anna Zubkova

1957: The Neue Haas Grotesk face is introduced with it’s debut at design trade show Graphic 57. The most distinctive features of the new typeface were consistently horizontal stroke terminals, large x-height, and extremely tight spacing. These features together resulted in the typeface’s characteristically dense and vigorous texture. The type was well received and adopted as the face of graphic design in Switzerland.

1963: The typeface changes its name from Neue Haas Grotesk to Helvetica. The name “Neue Haas Grotesk” was deemed less than ideal for an international Linotype market though. Heinz Eul, sales manager at Stempel, suggested “Helvetia”, which is Latin for “Switzerland”, but Hoffmann was not convinced, especially since a sewing machine manufacturer and insurance company already carried the name. He instead suggested “Helvetica” – “the Swiss”.

This page on Helvetica is just one of thirty-six, each looking at different Latin alphabet typefaces. The pages were made by the second-year graphic design students of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in autumn 2013.

Use your words

History of Helvetica

A fascinating history of the creation and adoption of this ubiquitous Swiss font.


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