Many typefaces designed with a pen on paper (especially those from the 20th century) were licensed by different foundries, and were later independently digitized by them. Some special characters such as @ or the euro sign, were independently added later. Those “alternate cuts” are different digital versions of basically the same typeface design. They often vary in character set, letter proportions and kerning. Some are published under different names.
Avenir was designed by Adrian Frutiger and released by Linotype-Hell AG in 1988. The design is based on two earlier sans serif typefaces, Erbar and Futura. Avenir is unusual in that it has weights that are similar, but each is designed for a different purpose.
In drawing the Avenir typeface, Adrian Frutiger looked to both the past and the future for inspiration. His goal was to reinterpret the geometric sans serif designs of the early part of the 20th century in a typeface that would portend aesthetics of the 21st century. He succeeded handsomely. In doing so, Frutiger added a bit of organic humanism to the design, freeing Avenir from the rigid geometric overtones of the earlier designs.