Summer 2011

Tools of the trade

David Barringer on the one sure thing he has grasped in two decades of graphic design life

1991. Microsoft and Apple introduce TrueType. Kodak sells the DCS-100, a 1.3-megapixel digital camera, for ,000. The MP3 format is standardised. The World Wide Web launches publicly on 6 August. I am 21 years old.

1992. QuarkXPress for Windows arrives. I go to law school.

1993. US President Bill Clinton unveils the first White House website. Indigo releases the E-Print 1000, a digital press. I get married.

1994. Adobe buys PageMaker. Carnegie Mellon University builds the world’s first wireless internet network. The first laptop computer is the IBM Thinkpad. I lay out the school newspaper on a Macintosh Classic II.

1995. Disney releases Pixar’s Toy Story, the first CGI feature film. Internet users number 16 million. Dot-coms boom. opens for business. I pass the Bar exam. My daughter is born.

1996. Adobe and Microsoft partner to release OpenType. Macromedia Flash is released. PalmPilots arrive. I do not want to be a lawyer. I do not know how to make a living. My son is born.

1997. Megapixel cameras are marketed to consumers. DVDs arrive. CD-RWs arrive. Microsoft invests 0 million in Apple; a month later, Steve Jobs returns. I live in an apartment. I am hired part-time as a writer.

1998. Weblogs appear. The online Drudge Report breaks the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Google is founded. I learn photography and art direction

on the job.

1999. Sub Pop distributes songs in MP3 format. I finish the first draft of my novel and save a copy on an Iomega Zip disk. The BlackBerry arrives. InDesign arrives. The Matrix arrives. Millennial panic arrives.

2000. Computers still work. Dot-coms bust. I have a company car. I publish a book of stories. I am 30 years old.

2001. 26 million people use Napster to swap music files for free; a lawsuit shuts it down. The first iPod arrives. Movable Type arrives. Wikipedia arrives. September 11 arrives.

2002. eBay buys PayPal. I live in a new home.

2003. Google buys WordPress arrives. Apple opens the iTunes store. The US invades Iraq. I buy a Fuji Finepix S2 Pro digital camera for 00. I use InDesign for the first time to lay out a magazine for work. I use my digital photos. I never use film again.

2004. MySpace, Facebook and Gmail launch. I write a book about graphic design. I move to North Carolina.

2005. Adobe Creative Suite arrives. Illustrator CS includes 3D tools. YouTube arrives. My novel is published. My graphic design book is published.

2006. Twitter launches. Nintendo releases the Wii. The USA Patriot Act allows broader email and internet monitoring. I rely on InDesign2 and Photoshop. Illustrator frightens me. I lose my part-time job.

2007. The iPhone arrives. I lose my company car. I lose my cellphone. I have to pay for all my software.

2008. People buy 139 million smartphones. I freelance. I write design essays.

2009. I publish a book of design essays. I design it using InDesign2. I can’t afford CS.

2010. The iPad arrives. I have a desktop computer, cable internet and a part-time job teaching design students, with whom I Skype. I am 40 years old. Internet users exceed 2 billion.

2011. Tools come and go. There is only one tool I will always use: my mind.

David Barringer is a design writer, legal journalist, novelist and educator

First published in Eye no. 80 vol. 20.