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Designed in 1904 by Morris Fuller Benton for the American Type Founders company, Franklin Gothic was originally conceived as only one weight. Over the next several years, the ATF family was expanded to include italic, condensed, condensed shaded, extra condensed and wide variants. For some unknown reason no light or intermediate weights were ever created. In 1979, under license from ATF, International Typeface Corporation created four new weights – Book, Medium, Demi and Heavy – in roman and italic versions. Designed by Victor Caruso, these new designs matched the pure characteristics of the original Franklin Gothic, adhering closely to the subtle thick and thin pattern of the original ATF typeface while featuring a slightly enlarged lowercase x-height. This increased x-height – which improved the typeface's appearance and readability – and the availability of larger family made ITC Franklin Gothic a preferred choice when setting large blocks of sans serif text. Franklin Gothic was named by Morris Fuller Benton in honor of Benjamin Franklin, whom Benton greatly admired for his significant contributions to American history and culture, and to printing in particular.
These links will take you from the Microsoft web site to a Monotype web site. Monotype can provide many common Microsoft supplied fonts under license from Microsoft or under license from other font vendors.