Helvetica – everybody knows it.

Our friend Eric sent us an interesting link from the Toronto Star about the 50th anniversary of Helvetica, the official typeface of the 20th century.

Helvetica is getting a lot of attention for its 50th year. For those around New York a year long exhibition about Helvetica just opened at MoMA.

Helvetica the movie

There’s even Helvetica: a documentary film by Gary Hustwit. We want to see that but, unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be coming to Buenos Aires anytime soon. Meanwhile, there’s trailers and photos from the film on the Web site and even a blog about the Helvetica documentary. Now, that’s a good feature for a film site.

Helvetica the book

And there’s even a book about the font, Helvetica: Homage to a Typeface.


The International Herald Tribune also gets into the act with its own article about Helvetica.

All this attention would make Helvetica’s original designer Max Miedinger proud.

Over the years

But Helvetica today isn’t quite the same as it was 50 years ago. The typeface has been expanded and updated twice with Neue Helvetica in 1983 and Helvetica World in 2001.

Fonts Old & New

The Toronto Star article has some great quotes about other fonts that many people use everyday. The Helvetica imitator known as Arial is described by one designer as a “parasite.”

And anyone who ever uses Comic Sans (and there are a lot of people out there who do) should please take note: “Comic Sans, a typeface that bestows one’s writing with all the verve and elegance of Porky Pig.”

The Toronto Star rightly asks if Helvetica will survive another 50 years. Frutiger, produced by the same foundry (Linotype) as Helvetica, is mentioned as a leading competitor.

Yet, oddly, as I read about the popularity of Helvetica I find little mention of the Meta, which is the favorite font of many designers today. Meta is often even called “the Helvetica of the nineties” and the “successor to Helvetica.”