In 1984 the Deutsche Bundespost (West German post office) commissioned a typeface from Sedley Place Design, the office where Spiekermann worked. They required a neutral, space-saving typeface that would be legible when printed very small on a postage stamp but also appropriate for use on mailboxes and trucks. Spiekermann opted for narrow letters, to save space, and strokes that are thin enough to counter the tendency of characters to run into each other but thick enough to ensure legibility. Deutsche Bundespost chose not to implement the typeface, so in 1991 Spiekermann released it on his own. According to the designer, FF Meta was intended to be a "complete antithesis of Helvetica" (the quintessential modern typeface), which he found "boring and bland." Meta became hugely popular and is often referred to as the Helvetica of the 1990s.
from Standard Deviations, 2011