Michael, I'm glad you found the article informative. I mostly just wanted to
set the record straight, regardless of whether one is fond of Helvetica (or
Arial, for that matter) or not.
Thanks, William, for shedding a bit of light on Arial's origins that I
hadn't known before. My history of the two faces is accurate as far as it
goes, but I'm sure there were at least a few such details outside my
When I wrote the article, I had no idea what a can of worms I was opening. I
have watched with amusement as it has been frequently cited in online
debates such as the one Jef pointed to.
The unanswerable question in my mind is whether Arial would have made it on
its own merits, without being so fundamentally tied to the ubiquitous
Helvetica, and without being given away. My guess is that it would be about
as well-known as Swiss 721, but who knows.
One of the most telling comments on that MarginWalker site that Jef pointed
to was the one where the guy says that the main reason he prefers Arial is
that it is free.
Another argument that is frequently brought up in favor of Arial is its
superb hinting. But, there is nothing superior about the fundamental design
of Arial over Helvetica in this regard. If the same effort were brought to
bear on Helvetica's hinting, no doubt the result would have been much the
Anyway, I don't usually get involved in these debates as I've said pretty
much what I think on the matter in my article. I still find the whole thing
rather amazing and amusing.
> From: Michael Brady <[log in to unmask]>
> Reply-To: Discussion of Type and Typographic Design
> <[log in to unmask]>
> Date: Mon, 24 Nov 2003 08:43:54 -0500
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Puckish question
> Walter Schmidt actually wrote:
>>> Walter wrote:
>>>> Who designed Arial and when? Why is it so-o-o similar to Helvetica?
>> Pardon me, but was not me who asked this question.
> That would have been moi. The previous responses were very helpful, so
> my thanks to all who responded. Somneone referred me to Mark Simonson's
> web page, The Scourge of Arial
> which had a very thorough report of the development of the design and
> the events and context in which it was produced.
> Michael Brady