When Multimedia Was Black & White

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The Black and White Computer

When I mention that Dave & I have been making interactive media since ‘the days when it was black and white,’ some people laugh, assuming I’m just making a joke. Others nod, knowingly; they remember.

Photography and television began black and white and evolved into colour, but multimedia followed a different path. Videodiscs and computer games delivered colourful interactive experiences long before a black and white computer inspired a new generation of pioneers.

In the early eighties, the personal computer was an idea still taking form. A few million hobbyists were playing around with the command line interfaces and clunky hardware of the first consumer computers. Most of us had little sense of how much our world was about to change, no clue that the future was about to slip into our homes and offices disguised as beige plastic boxes.

Thinktanks and visionaries had been inventing the future for decades, and had been experimenting with graphic interfaces since the sixties. Apple successfully incorporated these ideas into a relatively affordable personal computer in 1984, the Macintosh. note

Suddenly, a whole new group of creative people were using computers. The following year Apple, Adobe and Aldus note introduced PageMaker and the LaserWriter, the first PostScript wikipedia link laser printer. The graphic arts industries — already transformed by photography earlier in the century — were about to be transformed again and the computer would soon be ubiquitous in the graphics arts.

Within a few years there were a million note Macintosh computers, and many of them were in the hands of creative, adventurous people. And then, Apple released HyperCard.

text, design: kevin steele | sounding board: dave groff

First published March 2005 at the Smackerel web site.

Republished here June 2018. The design was created in 2005 to be seen in web browsers, and includes screen captures meant to be seen original size. On a phone the monochrome graphics will inevitably be scaled and show some moiré.

Page: MMBW01 version: 1.0.3 | 03.01.2005 | Tweaked 06.11.2018