Max Miedinger was a Swiss typeface designer. He was famous for creating the Neue Haas Grotesk typeface in 1957 which was renamed Helvetica in 1960. Marketed as a symbol of cutting-edge Swiss technology, Helvetica went global at once.
Between 1926 and 1930 Miedinger trained as a typesetter in Zürich, after which he attended evening classes at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Zürich.
At the age of sixteen Max became an apprentice typesetter at a book printing office for Jacques Bollmann (in Zürich). After four years as an apprentice, Miedinger enrolled in the School of Arts and Crafts. When he was 26 years old, he went to work for an advertising studio called Globe. Here he worked as a typographer and improved his skills. After ten years of working at Globe, Miedinger then gained employment with Haas Type Foundry as a representative. This is where he made his mark on history and designed the most used typeface of the 20th century, Helvetica.
In 1956 Miedinger became a freelance graphic designer and about a year later he collaborated with Edouard Hoffman on the typeface which would later be called Helvetica.
History of Helvetica
Four years after its birth, Helvetica was given an oblique brother. More weights were added later, but they were made by different designers in diverse foundries, but these lacked consistency, and Helvetica became a hodge podge of different fonts.
Linotype has since redrawn every style and weight of the font to make a consistent family of typefaces. Differences in alignment were corrected, subtle features were made consistent from one face to another, and all the weights and widths were designed to work together as one family. This new family is called Neue Helvetica, and is available from, among others, Adobe.
Today, Helvetica is shunned by many designers because it is overused due to its being the default typeface on many desktop publishing software packages. But, remember, it is the default face because it is such a reliable, workhorse of a typeface. Together with Times New Roman, Helvetica was the most specified face of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.