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January 16, 2007

Microsoft… I thought they were the Arial guys?

After spending much time demonizing Microsoft for ripping off Helvetica with their blatant copycat font, Arial (I’m sure there are lots of other things we can demonize them for as well), it was recently pointed out to me that the Microsoft logo is actually in Helvetica.

D’oh! Maybe I was subconsciously blocking it out or something. Or maybe it was that little slice they took out of the first ‘o’ that makes it look so, uhm, high tech. In the film there’s a point where Mike Parker, who was with Merganthaller Linotype USA in the ’60s and is one of the people responsible for bringing Helvetica to America, says, “Once we introduced Helvetica, it really just ran away. It was like a landslide waiting to go down the mountain, and away it went.” That sets off what Shelby (our editor) and I refer to as the “logo landslide” in which loads of corporate logos using Helvetica are paraded across the screen. I love the fact that a company like Fendi can use Helvetica for their logo, but so can Jeep. I guess we’ll have to add Microsoft to the landslide now…


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typeglyph says

Jan 26, 2007

To the best of my knowledge Arial was originally designed by Robin Nicholas and Patricia Saunders, for Monotype back in the early 80s. It was developed for laser printers. Later from what I can remember Mathew Carter reworked Arial for Microsoft. He also designed some variations of Helvetica (Inserat, and others).

Keep in mind that Linotype owns the copyright to Helvetica, in spite of the blitz marketing by Adobe that their Postscript Helvetica was the true Helvetica. But then Adobe marketed a lot of the linotype library in the late 80's and nineties.

My source was Herr Steinhart at Linotype and the Mr. Haley at Monotype. It is also now on the Monotype website. I hope you had a chance to talk to Bruno Steinhart when you were at Linotype.


Gary says

Jan 26, 2007

Thanks for the comment. Yes, Bruno Steinert is in the film, as is Matthew Carter (though I do not believe Matthew worked on Arial). But Bruno is no longer with Linotype, he left the company late last year after it was bought by Monotype.