Helvetica was originally designed by Max Miedinger for the Haas Type Foundry in Munchenstein, Switzerland, in 1957. According to Hustwit, interviewed for the March/April edition of the magazine I.D. ("America’s leading critical magazine covering the art, business and culture of design"):
[T]he people at Stempel and Linotype, who were distributing Helvetica, did a great marketing job. The face started out under the name Neue Haas Grotesk, but that was changed to Helvetica, based on the word Helvetia, which is Latin for "Switzerland." Swiss design was becoming very trendy, and early sales brochures for Helvetica pretty much say, "You want Swiss design? Here you go." Helvetica was Swiss design in a can. The other factor came when it was bundled into the first Macs. I've heard that Steve Jobs is passionate about typography, and he's the one who chose it.
The ubiquity of the font was attractive to him as a director:
It's used the same in any country in Europe or any city in America. Anything that has to do with machinery or construction or moving or trucking uses it.