Helvetica, legendary font turns 50

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Some fonts have clever names: Dirty Uncle, Saucy Millionaire, Dirtstorm, Stampoo, Pink Martini, Chicken Basket, Death Ninja, Whoopass. Some don’t: Times New Roman, Verdana, Arial. In the world of typography, it doesn’t matter. Sassy, apropos, or boring, the only thing that matters is whether a font can do the job you need it to.

Take Helvetica. The behemoth of fonts is turning 50. Many hate it due to decades of overuse and its ultra simplicity, yet font lovers can’t deny its clarity in print. Like it or loathe it, when you need a sans serif font that’s readable and clean, Helvetica works. Just look to newspapers, highway signs, medicine packaging, magazines, Lufthansa, Toyota, Sanyo, Saab, Evian, the New York, Moscow, and Tokyo subways, The White Album’s cover, and the U.S. Tax Department for proof.

And now, this ubiquitous font is starring in its own documentary film. Take that, Death Ninja. You’ve got nothing on Helvetica.

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2 Comments

  1. Helvetica……..My father passed his love of letterforms on to me and Helvetica was his favorite,along with Times Roman.I hated Helvetica,still do,much prefering Gill Sans. My all time favorite is Venetian(or Centaur). Venetian is such an elegant type.

      May 9, 2007 – 3:32 pm   Permalink
  2. Hi Gary. I enjoy Venetian and Centaur too. They make me think of my travels in Italy. If you want to see a great version of these fonts made to look as if it’s off an antique press, check out Telegdi. Not quite as elegant, but very charming and old world.

      May 10, 2007 – 9:23 am   Permalink

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