The folks who’ve made things on the Internet since the 1990’s have had a kick out Zach Holman’s piece Only 90s Web Developers Remember This. For me, it was the 1×1.gif:
1×1.gif should have won a fucking Grammy. Or a Pulitzer. Or Most Improved, Third Grade Gym Class or something. It’s the most important achievement in computer science since the linked list. It’s not the future we deserved, but it’s the future we needed (until the box model fucked it all up).
All the things I’ve forgotten. Blink, deal with it.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Tom Moertel’s tale of a great old-timey game-programming hack, it reminded me of my computer science days and assembly programming.
A long time ago, when I was a college undergrad, I spent some time working on computer video games. This was in the 8-bit PC era, so the gaming hardware was almost impossibly slow by today’s standards.
It might not surprise you, then, to learn that, back then, game programmers did all sorts of crazy things to make their games run at playable speeds. Crazy, crazy things.
This is a story about one of those things.
I’m more familiar with the America-centric history of networked computing, so I’m always fascinated to read about things that were happening in other parts of the world. Jeremy Rossman takes a look at France’s Minitel system and how it provided one of the first app stores.
In the early eighties the French government vaulted its country’s tech industry a decade ahead of the rest of the world by introducing a computer terminal called the Minitel. Rolled out as a beta product in 1980 and launched to the French public in 1983, every household with a landline subscription was eligible for a free Minitel. Its killer launch app was a digital version of the yellow pages — to encourage adoption the government cancelled the production of [the] paper [version].
Fabien Sanglard takes an in-depth look at the Doom 3 source code.
Getting our hands on the source code of such a ground breaking engine is exciting. Upon release in 2004 Doom III set new visual and audio standards for real-time engines, the most notable being “Unified Lighting and Shadows”. For the first time the technology was allowing artists to express themselves on an hollywood scale.
Tell-all Telephone, just in case you were under the impression that it was fine to collect meta-data without any “personal data”.
Green party politician Malte Spitz sued to have German telecoms giant Deutsche Telekom hand over six months of his phone data. We combined this geolocation data with information relating to his life as a politician, such as Twitter feeds, blog entries and websites, all of which is all freely available on the internet. By pushing the play button, you will set off on a trip through Malte Spitz’s life.
Mariner 1, a NASA probe, crashed into the ocean not long after takeoff. The cause was a source of confusion for a long time, but seems to have been the result of a missing hypen.
One of the official reports, issued by the Mariner 1 Post-Flight Review Board, concluded that a dropped hyphen in coded computer instructions resulted in incorrect guidance signals being sent to the spacecraft. The review board specifically refers to a “hyphen,” although other sources also refer to an “overbar transcription error” and even to a misplaced decimal point.
From Benj Edwards at The Atlantic comes the story of the world’s first computer art.
The pin-up image itself was programmed as a series of short lines, or vectors, encoded on a stack of about 97 Hollerith type punched cards, Tipton recalls. Hollerith punched cards were 7.375 x 3.25 inch paper cards that stored binary data via holes cut through a matrix printed on its surface. Like other 1950s computers, the AN/FSQ-7 used the cards extensively for program input.
Update: Some old computer based artwork.
Interesting photo set about the history of social media from Daniela Hernandez.
Before Facebook and Facetime and Google+ and Twitter, there was Plato and the Bell Picturephone and the Dynabook and the Xerox LiveBoard. Social media is nothing new. It just has better packaging — and better marketing.
The Harwell Dekatron WITCH has been rebuilt and rebooted at The National Museum of Computing in England, making it the world’s oldest working digital computer.
The 2.5 tonne, 1951 computer from Harwell with its 828 flashing Dekatron valves, 480 relays and a bank of paper tape readers will clatter back into action in the presence of two of the original designers, one of its first users and many others who have admired it at different times during its remarkable history.
If you’re a computer geek and get the chance to visit Bletchley Park, make sure you don’t overlook the museum. I had the opportunity to visit a couple years ago — I had no idea it was there, and probably could’ve devoted another day to it.
From Designing Programs by Casey Reas and Chandler McWilliams.
Writing software is something that’s not typically associated with the work of a visual designer, but there’s a growing number of designers who write custom software as a component of their work. Over the last decade, through personal experience, we’ve learned many of the benefits and pitfalls of writing code as a component of a visual arts practice, but our experience doesn’t cover the full spectrum. Custom software is changing typography, photography, and composition and is the foundation for new categories of design practice that includes design for networked media (web browsers, mobile phones, tablets) and interactive installations. Most importantly, designers writing software are pushing design thinking into new areas.
The asked a number of designers the impetus for writing their own software, and how it has impacted their work.