Archive for the Industrial Design Category

PDP11 Handbook

Posted by Scott

11_02[1] 11_03[1]
dec-pdp-11.color_pdp11.102630690.lg Up top is the original handbook for the Digital PDP11 Microcomputer (front and back). This was a successor of the PDP8 line I covered earlier. This time around we’ve got a liberal shift into the magenta range for the interface. The lower image depicts the machine in use; funny how they’ve dubbed it a "microcomputer" yet it’s peripherals fill an entire room. Makes me realize that for all the ills of the modern world, we as digital artists certainly live in a fortunate time for our chosen profession. The great irony here (considering the proliferation of computer based desktop publishing) is that these brochures for computers were all set photographically, by hand. I’m not sure what typeface that is, it looks rather custom so perhaps it never made the leap to the digital realm as a font. Let us all know if you have any ideas about it’s identity.

Really liking the cream border on the handbook and it looks to be intentional in this case as opposed to being an effect of aging like we saw in the Blue Note covers. Also, here’s an interesting example of a programming card from the PDP, unfortunately it’s a bit cut off.

Three G’z

Posted by Scott

Unless you live in an actual cave or have an actual life, you know / care  that the iPhone 3G is now available and that the entire world is completely freaking out. When the first one came out I tried to play it cool and pretend like I didn’t want one; but once the lines died down about a month later, I caved in and got it. I was planning on doing the same this time around, but thanks to a bit of luck I was able to get one at an overlooked AT&T store by my house after only 30 minutes of waiting. Apparently everyone thought the only place that was selling them in San Francisco was the downtown Apple Store, because there were like 15 people in line at the Mission AT&T.

I always really enjoyed the original one, it’s a huge help while traveling, and as a designer, the slide show functionality is invaluable for client meetings and giving impromptu portfolio viewings. There were definitely a lot of little (and not so little) problems I had with the old one, and while most have been addressed in the new version it still leaves a bit to be desired. Regardless, it’s without a doubt a major triumph of design and usability; the user experience Jonathan Ive & Co have delivered is light years beyond anything else out there. The original iPhone was the first Apple product I ever owned and the experience led me to switch over to Mac for my work. It’s a pretty major feat to distill an all-encompassing user experience like that found in OSX and nearly replicate it in the form factor of a phone. That was enough for me to take a harder look at OSX as a design / work platform.

There are countless articles written about the iPhone by far more informed people than myself, so I won’t go into detail about my opinions (but needless to say I am loving this one even more than the last). But I am interested to know what the design community thinks of it: Do you have one? As a designer, do you feel devices like this benefit your workflow / business? Do you see it as a successful design? Do you want to bang your head against a wall every time you hear about the f&*$%ing thing? Let us all know what you think.

AKAT 1: Analog Computer

Posted by Scott

This is the AKAT-1, a Polish made analog computer from the 1960’s which apparently was rumored to have been used as a synth on Beatles recordings [source]. I happened upon it while reading an article about analog computing on Wikipedia. I’m not trading in my digital computers for the analog variety any time soon (as I did with my synthesizers), but if they would just make a MIDI / DAW controller that looked like this I would be set.

"An analog computer (spelled analogue in British English) is a form of computer that uses continuous physical phenomena such as electrical, mechanical, or hydraulic quantities to model the problem being solved."
Source: Wikipedia

Olivetti Valentine

Posted by Scott

Olivetti Valentine Typewriter (c.1969)

"Sottsass designed the Valentine typewriter (with Perry A. King) for Olivetti in 1969 to be an "anti-machine machine," for use "anyplace but an office. Undoubtedly one of the great design classics, the Valentine expresses the mood of its time: goodbye to the bulky cast-iron housings of old typewriters, hello to the new mobility of a light, modern, plastic casing made from ABS. The Valentine typewriter is a very collectible portable in spite of the fact that it is relatively of recent vintage. "

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