One of the first people to be recognized as a “computer artist” was Charles Csuri. He began creating imagery and animations using computers in 1964. He worked on government-sponsored research projects into computer graphics for over 22 years, and the results were used in applications ranging from scientific data-display methods to special effects in movies. His methods of combining the artistic and scientific processes probably saw inspiration in the Modernist philosophy, and then went on to influence many later designers. In this way he functions as link between past tradition and the progression of new thinking, much like Warhol or Picasso.
In 1965 Rudolph Hell introduced the ‘Digiset” typeset system; replacing the film-based typesetting process with the digital font families we know today.
In the 19070’s Adobe company founder John Warnock was in school at the University of Utah. He was a major contributor to the type-setting industry with his Postcript page description language, not to mention the Adobe family of digital production tools. Also at the University of Utah then was 3D graphics pioneer Edwin Catmull.
In the 1980’s the potential of the computer for graphic design was finally becoming clear to consumers, with the Macintosh and Commodore Amiga providing a platform and tools that made certain design tasks much faster and more accurate. With the introduction of graphical user interfaces instead of “/” commands, the technology became much more accessible as well. Pixar created their first fully animated short films in the late mid 80’s.
The 1990’s saw an explosion of these tools, and fully integrated three dimensions into them, allowing the creation of virtual models that could be studied and manipulated in the same ways as their physical counterparts.
Now the digital production tools available to us are more advanced and easy to obtain and use than ever. Graphic design was no longer solely the province of professionals with specialized tools, but possible for anyone with a computer. A secondary impact was the way these tools combined all aspects of the design: typesetting, process separation, colour management and many other aspects. These conditions resulted in a lot of subpar design in the early years especially, as “laypeople” and professionals experimented with the capabilities (and limitations) of the new tool.
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