The name DIN refers to the Deutsches Institut für Normung (in English, the German Institute for Standardization). The typeface began life as the DIN Institute’s standard no. DIN 1451, published in 1931. It contained several models of standard alphabets for mechanically engraved lettering, hand-lettering, lettering stencils and printing types. These were to be used in the areas of signage, traffic signs, wayfinding, lettering on technical drawings and technical documentation. Rooted in earlier designs for Germany’s railway companies, the alphabets were based on geometric shapes in order to be easily reproducible using compass and ruler.
In post-1945 West Germany, the DIN alphabets were widely used, for instance on most road signs. They became available as fonts that were appreciated by designers for their industrial, somewhat quirky and “non-typographic” look and feel. From the 1990s onwards, more refined versions became available for use in book and magazine typography. DIN Next is a typographically corrected and expanded version of this quintessential 20th-century design.