The great hype of Swisspalooza '07 prompted a look at Max Miedinger, the designer of Neue Haas Grotesk (later renamed to Helvetica). Surprisingly, what little biographical information available about Miedinger indicates that he was a typography consultant and type sales rep for the Haas foundry until 1956, after which time he was a freelance graphic designer - rather than the full-time type designer most Helvetica enthusiasts presume him to have been. It was under that freelance capacity that he was commissioned to design the regular and bold weights of Neue Haas Grotesk typeface. His role in designing Helvetica was never really trumpeted until long after the typeface attained global popularity. And, again surprisingly, Miedinger designed two more typefaces that seem to have been lost to the dust of film type history. One is called Pro Arte (1954), a very condensed Playbill-like slab serif that is similar to many of its genre. The other, made in 1964, is much more interesting. Its original name was Horizontal. Here it is, lest it becomes a Haas-been, presented to you in digital form by Canada Type under the name of its original designer, Miedinger, the Helvetica King.
The original film face was a simple set of bold, panoramically wide caps and figures that give off a first impression of being an ultra wide Gothic incarnation of Microgramma. Upon a second look, they are clearly more than that. This face is a quirky, very non-Akzidental take on the vernacular, mostly an exercise in geometric modularity, but also includes some unconventional solutions to typical problems (like thinning the midline strokes across the board to minimize clogging in three-story forms).
This digital version introduces a new lighter weight alongside the bold original. The Miedinger package comes in all popular font formats, and supports Western, Central and Eastern European languages, as well as Esperanto, Maltese, Turkish and Celtic/Welsh. A few counter-less alternates are included in the fonts.