Helvetica vs Arial : Or Change-it-slightly-and-call-it-yours Department of Dirty Tricks.
There was a time when you couldn't get away from Helvetica and it became tiresome to call out that font for copy or headlines in ads that I—in another life as an advertising art director—had to do invoices for typesetting orders (Yep, you actually had to buy typesetting from another place to put in your ads). Eventually, it's heyday came and went.
But Helvetica as a font didn't close shop. Then Arial decided to open for business—and, aside from the name, it looked very familiar.
To the untrained eye, the difference was hard to spot. After all, most people would have trouble telling the difference between a serif and a sans serif typeface. But to an experienced designer, it was like asking for Jimmy Stewart and getting Rich Little.
--Mark Simonson, The Scourge of Arial
The moral: Winning isn't everything. Winning by being a sneak gains you fans. The kind you shouldn't want—and you'll deserve all that's coming to you.
A full article by Mark Simonson here outlining the history of how this came to be.
If you wanted to kick Arial around, then have at it here.
A sold out t-shirt vote of support. Would have been nice.
The man who created Helvetica, Max Meidinger.
Via Whatdoiknow.org and a buncha other sites who were indignant long before my fascination with it.