DATE: March 13, 2018, 2:50 p.m.

UPDATED: March 13, 2018, 3:32 p.m.

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  1. Univers (French pronunciation: ​[ynivɛʁ]) is the name of a large sans-serif typeface family designed by Adrian Frutiger and released by his employer Deberny & Peignot in 1957. Classified as a neo-grotesque sans-serif, one based on the model of nineteenth-century German typefaces such as Akzidenz-Grotesk, it was notable for its availability from the moment of its launch in a comprehensive range of weights and widths. The original marketing for Univers deliberately referenced the periodic table to emphasise its scope.
  2. Univers was one of the first typeface families to fulfil the idea that a typeface should form a family of consistent, related designs. Past sans-serif designs such as Gill Sans had much greater differences between weights, while loose families such as American Type Founders' Franklin Gothic family often were advertised under different names for each style, to emphasise that they were not completely matching. By creating a matched range of styles and weights, Univers allowed documents to be created in one consistent typeface for all text, making it easier to artistically set documents in sans-serif type. This matched the desire among practitioners of the ""Swiss style" of typography for neutral sans-serif typefaces avoiding artistic excesses.
  3. The design concept of Univers was intended to take advantage of the new technology of phototypesetting, in which fonts were stored as glass discs rather than as solid metal type and matrices for every size to be used. Deberny & Peignot had established itself as a leader in this technology, although as by the time of its launch metal type was still very popular the design was also released in this form. Univers was rapidly licensed and re-released by Monotype, Linotype, American Type Founders, IBM and others for phototypesetting, for metal type and reproduction by typewriter. Historian James Mosley has described it as "probably the last major" release of a large family as metal type.


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