Eduard Hoffmann’s decision in 1950 to introduce a new sans serif typeface to the Swiss market launched the beginning of the most successful project of his long carrier. He could never have predicted that the typeface, introduced by the Haas’sche Schriftgiesserei AG (Haas Type Foundry Ltd.) and later called Helvetica, would conquer the world, become the typeface of both dignified brands and humble stationery, an element in graphic works of art and badly designed pamphlets—or, in short, that it would become a classic.

His son Alfred E. Hofmann who became director of the Haas’schen Schriftgießerei in 1968, has documented the development and its success with numerous printed matters, advertising brochures and the original sketches. For the first time the book and the exhibition provide an insight into this archive.

The most important record of Helvetica’s creation is a simple notebook, into which Eduard Hoffmann pasted all the proofs that were relevant for the genesis of the Neue Haas Grotesk and later Helvetica. He documented every single developmental step for each and every letter, numeral, and special character in all available point sizes of the Medium, Regular, Bold, Regular Italic and Bold Italic. As in a diary, he dated each entry, noted the opinion’s of third parties, drew desired changes, and regularly compared the results to the Akzidenz Grotesk typeface. The entries in this fifty-eight page chronicle began on November 16, 1956 and end on July 21, 1965. It serves as a priceless testimony, unprecedented in typeface history.