Posted by: Jo Briton
Tue, 11 Mar 2014
Mike Parker, the man most known for popularising the Helvetica typeface,
has passed away on Sunday, 23 February 2014. He was 85 years old.
Parker did not design Helvetica, but as a type designer, historian, and consultant at Font Bureau, he developed over 1,100 typefaces and is credited for Helvetica’s popularity in the modern world.
Parker was looking for an adaptable European font that would work at
many different weights when he discovered the Swiss typeface named Neue Haas
Grotesk designed by Max Miedinger and Eduard Hoffman of the Haas Type Foundry.
However, when he tried to use it in his company’s industry-standard typesetting machine—the Mergenthaler Linotype Company hot metal typesetting machine—he realized that the European-designed Neue Haas Grotesk had letters that were not created for use with their machine.
This led Parker and his team to rework Haas’s original drawings of letters so they would work on Linotype’s machines. This modification of Neue Haas Grotesk became known as Helvetica.
The pervasive presence of Helvetica is undeniable, as they are present in numerous popular logos, subway signs, or even come pre-installed on your computer. Steve Jobs’ incorporated Helvetica into the Apple operating system. International brands from BMW and American Airlines to Lufthansa and Panasonic have adopted the design in their logos.