Jim Boulton

Digital archeologist Jim Boulton explores the creative history of computer technology

Digital history begins with the birth of the computer. From Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine to the code-breaking machines of Bletchley Park, early computers were used to solve mathematical problems. In the wake of the Second World War, research units such as Bell Labs began exploring the creative potential of these machines. By the 1970s, computers had become part of everyday life – digital culture had arrived. However the first flickers of this digital revolution appeared during the previous decade or so as a direct result of the ‘Space Race’.


A computer operator using Sketchpad in 1963, the first program to use a graphical user interface.
Top: Leon Harmon and Kenneth Knowlton’s reclining nude, 1966. An image of the dancer Deborah Hay was dissected into a grid and assigned an icon according to its halftone density.


Jim Boulton, digital archeologist, London

Read the full version in Eye no. 88 vol. 22 2014


Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues. You can see what Eye 88 looks like at Eye before You Buy on Vimeo.

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