The typeface Arial is ubiquitous. We all use it every day, at least those of us who use computers do. It is one of the most widely used faces in the world. It sits in the fonts folder of millions of computers worldwide.
This is from Wikipedia:
Arial is held in disregard by some professional typographers and type enthusiasts, for reasons relating to its similarity to other typefaces and the involvement of Microsoft in its development and distribution. It is reinforced by Arial’s apparent status as a de facto Helvetica stand-in, but without paying royalties, or credit, to Helvetica. Arial’s glyph widths are nearly identical to those of Helvetica, rather than Monotype Grotesque, on which Arial is otherwise based, and many people are unable to tell the difference between Helvetica, Arial and other similar fonts.
But who designed the face? This is an extract from the Monotype Imaging website.
Robin Nicholas’s early training as an apprentice draftsman let his natural artistic talent fuse with the accuracy and attention to detail required in technical drawing. Typeface design is a similar blend of right- and left-brain activities. Happily for those of us who use fonts, Nicholas’s career path took a turn when he joined the Monotype Type Drawing Office in 1965.
After a period of training at Monotype, Nicholas’s first projects involved redrawing master artwork for typefaces licensed by the company for its typesetting systems. An additional two-year training period followed, this time focused on punch cutting and the preparation of metal fonts for design-proofing. Nicholas went on to manage the Type Drawing Office for ten years before taking up his current position as Head of Typography at the Monotype Studio in the U.K.
Between 1978 and 1980, Nicholas designed the Nimrod® family, a suite of typefaces for newspaper text, headlines and small ads. In 1982, he created a sans serif typeface for low-resolution laser printers that was further developed, with Patricia Saunders, into the Arial® typeface family. The family was later chosen by Microsoft as a core font for Windows® 3.1 and has become part of the standard font offering in the Windows operating system.
It’s nice to know where things come from…