Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Where it all began, or [my] computer arts in their infancy

This header may be an eyesore but it takes me back to good times!

For some reason lately I've been thinking back nostalgically about some computer programs that I used when I was younger. It occurred to me recently that I've been using computers most of my life for expression in some form of digital art (but don't worry—I went outside too!).

It took me forever just to remember what the names were, but I found it almost more difficult to dig up information on the web. I think most of us have all but forgotten about graphics programs' (and our own) humble beginnings. I may be dating myself but if you're in your 20s you may
remember some of these from your own youth...

Macintosh SE
This is the computer I was rocking early on—it's the first computer we had in our family. If you're wondering, this little guy was top of the line and had 40–80 MB of hard drive space and a tiny little black & white display. It was more than enough for word processing, playing Glypha 3.0, and even was
eventually hooked up to the early internet when it was still all texty. Photo from wikipedia.

I also had plenty of fonts at my fingertips for typographic stylings in Claris Works. :-)

Image from wikipedia. In case you're wondering, I was a big fan of the font Chicago—a classic Mac font.

Kid Pix
I want to say we had Mac Paint as well, but Kid Pix was one of my favorites on our little Mac SE. Below are some images from the first public domain version which was quickly replaced by a version with color, more tools & goodies. Later versions included sound, slideshow and animation capabilities.

The introductory image in this post was made using the public domain version of Kid Pix—that is still available online though you have to use Classic Mode on your Mac! (I added the yellow rectangles in Photoshop.) You only have one font, uppercase letters only, as a choice in this version and you have to place letters using a stamp method—this is why my text is a little crooked. Click here to get your own free version of Kid Pix to take for a test run. If you want to upgrade for yourself... err your kids, click here.

I wish I had some original "vintage" artwork to share with you but alas it's gone—maybe I'll be able to dig some up over the holidays.

The images above are from The Vintage Mac Museum, a Japanese website that is mostly in English.

Mac II-something
So maybe my middle school didn't have the most up-to-date computer systems, but I remember many days of booting up 5 1/4 inch floppy disks to play Number Munchers, Oregon Trail and Print Shop.

This is a Macintosh IIc—the picture is the closest to what I remember our computers looking like. Photo from wikipedia.

Print Shop
Print Shop was this awesome* program that allowed you to create simple layouts using borders, clip art and simple text. You could even print multiple page-long banners on your tractor paper-fed dot matrix printer—how cool is that? *well, awesome back in the day

I looked all over the web for images of Print Shop and its pieces of art, but it was tough. The photos below are from David Malkoff's Flickr photos—the only other person who seems to be thinking about Print Shop. Thanks!

Adobe Illustrator: The Early Versions

I was not old enough to even consider using the early versions of Adobe Illustrator but I found these videos on YouTube both amazing in what the original Illustrator capabilities were (even in black and white!) and also how far along the software has come.

Illustrator 1: Debuting on a Mac in 1987
It's funny when during the demo the Adobe president goes to change up the color of a vector drawing's line with "any shade of gray". Looking back at the video it looks like CMYK designations were available, but I suppose you couldn't tell what you had selected on screen?

Illustrator 88 in 1988: Oooh color!

Want to read more? Wikipedia has interesting entries on Macintosh fonts, Macintosh SE, Macintosh II, and the History of Adobe Illustrator. Of course, don't forget
The Vintage Mac Museum!


Cicada Studio said...

Lordie. My first experience with computer graphics was with the "drawing" palette in Microsoft Word back in '93. I believe I started with Photoshop 4 and was completely intimidated by Illustrator until it reached version 8 and took the plunge... I haven't looked back since.

Three Red Hens said...

At least you've moved on from the Word palette (and to do some really gorgeous work)! LOL