Shamelessy stolen from Wikipedia:
FF Meta was a typeface designed by Erik Spiekermann in 1991 for the West German Post Office. When they decided not to use it he decided to publish it himself.
Spiekermann Designed it as ‘an antithesis to Helvetica, which he found bland and boring. It was popular throughout the international design community in the 1990s.
The brief called for a font which could be reproduced quickly on cheap paper stock, as opposed to most fonts which are designed to look good in large print. The result was a neutral, legible typface with unmistakable characters. The font lended itself to both large and small scale applications- as demonstrated below.
‘A large size billboard with information about houses in Amsterdam, you can clearly see the power of Meta with the readability from a great distance to this billboard.’ (Exerpt from http://www.designworkplan.com)
In 2007 a version of Meta with serifs was released. As described in http://www.typographica.org:
‘Meta Serif is far more than a Meta-with-serifs, it’s an entirely new face that carries all the characteristics of Meta; solid, clean and modern, but offering a new expressiveness and verve, a sense of pace and energy.’