The Helvetica® design is a classic that has stood the test of time – and changed with technological advances in the process. First announced in 1957, Helvetica was re-released in 1983 as the Neue Helvetica® family, with a suite of subtle differences that made a positive impact on the design.
The original design, drawn by Max Miedinger, was released by the Haas Type Foundry of Switzerland, then by Germany-based Stempel (the parent company of Haas) and finally by Mergenthaler Linotype. In 1983, Stempel released Neue Helvetica, a re-working of the design.
Since its launch, Helvetica has been refined by a variety of designers to add new weights and adapt the typeface for successive methods of composition, from hot metal to digital. In addition, character weights, proportions and spacing were sometimes compromised in earlier versions of the family in order to comply with inherent limitations of typesetting technologies of the day.
It was these modifications that led to the redrafting of Helvetica in 1983, when the complete family was carefully redrawn and expanded. The outcome was a synthesis of aesthetic and technical refinements that resulted in improved appearance, legibility and usefulness.
Neue Helvetica is available as OpenType® Pro fonts with characters that support Central European and many Eastern European languages, in addition to 34 Cyrillic versions and a Hebrew Helvetica.
Neue Helvetica’s most recent high-profile use was by Apple in its iPhone® 4 device.