Univers is the name of a realist sans-serif typeface designed by Adrian Frutiger in 1954. Originally conceived and released by Deberny & Peignot in 1957, the type library was acquired in 1972 by Haas. Then transferred into the D. Stempel AG and Linotype collection in 1985 and 1989 respectively upon the Haas'sche Schriftgiesserei (Haas Type Foundry) acquisition and closing.
Univers is one of a group of neo-grotesque sans-serif typefaces, all released in 1957, that includes Folio and Neue Haas Grotesk (later renamed Helvetica). These three faces are sometimes confused with each other, because each is based on the 1898 typeface Akzidenz-Grotesk. These typefaces figure prominently in the Swiss Style of graphic design.
Different weights and variations within the type family are designated by the use of numbers rather than names, a system since adopted by Frutiger for other type designs. Frutiger envisioned a large family with multiple widths and weights that maintained a unified design idiom. However, the actual typeface names within Univers family include both number and letter suffixes.
Currently, Univers type family consists of 44 faces, with 16 uniquely numbered weight, width, position combinations. 20 fonts have oblique positions. 8 fonts support Central European character set. 8 support Cyrillic character set.
Univers has been employed in numerous applications including corporate branding, signage, maps, standardized testing and consumer electronics devices. Apple used Univers on its laptop keyboards until switching to the VAG Rounded™ typeface in 2007. Univers is used in tandem with Frutiger in the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, as well as being the primary typeface used by Germany‘s Frankfurt International Airport and the Montreal Metro System. Rand McNally used Univers to label maps and atlases before switching to the Frutiger design in 2004. Univers is used on tests and exams in the UK, preferred for the clear distinction between similar characters such as I and 1.