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Category Archives: Floppies

Latest Sheeplike Activity

Everybody’s visiting the Simpsons Movie official website and making their own Simpsons-esque doppelgänger. I created my own and, after a few modifications in Photoshop, dubbed him Jaded Hipster.

Howard Pierce Desktop Patterns

Thought I’d share these nifty patterns I made back in 2000 — try them out for a cool “Desert Modernism” look. These are based on photos we took of the roofline borders on sculptor Howard Pierce‘s home in Joshua Tree, California. The talented Mr. Pierce, who died in 1994, made his name designing whimsical ceramic figurines of animals. Some photos of Pierce’s public sculptures in Joshua tree can be seen here. Enjoy!

Howard Pierce Desktop Pattern I
Howard Pierce Desktop Pattern II

Book Review: Core Memory

Core Memory - coverI have a strange affinity for wall-sized computers in old movies. Banks of blinking lights and spinning reels of magnetic tape made for nice background scenery, but they’re nothing compared to the real stories behind those early, rare and expensive computers. These pioneering machines are explored in an unexpectedly sumptuous way via Core Memory: A Visual Survey of Vintage Computers.

This kind of book is a retro-computer geek’s dream come true, but for a layman like myself John Alderman’s text fills in the details and history on each machine wonderfully well. Mark Richards’ photography gets in deep and close, bringing out intriguing abstract patterns in the masses of transistors, buttons and chips (plus he gets a lot of mileage on how the internal wiring on many old machines resemble human veins). The photos also focus on the pieces’ humble, human aspects — be it the handwritten fire and police phone numbers on 1961’s SAGE computer or the funky plywood box housing Steve Wozniak’s original Apple from 1976. The end result is that these early computers are not as imposing as previously thought, but much more impressive in terms of what they did at the time.

This book also serves as a neat browse if only to check out how each computer’s design reflects the time it was made in. For instance, the Nippon NEAC 2203 from 1960 (pictured in the spread below) has the same clean and angular “Populuxe” look shared by cars from the same era. By the time we get to Digital’s DEC PDP-8 (pictured on the cover) of a few years later, muted tones have given way to a groovy palette of oranges, yellows and browns. I never thought I’d say this about an old computer, but trés chic.

The computers covered in this book range from interesting, short-lived failures (Honeywell’s Jetsons-esque Kitchen Computer) to popular classics (the Commodore 64). The only complaint I’d have is that many of the profiled machines don’t have a single, straightforward exterior view — just details. But that’s a small blemish on an otherwise fine book.

Core Memory was just published by Chronicle. Buy at Amazon here.

Core Memory - spread

Four for the Feeds

Still working out the kinks on this WordPress conversion, but I have a few new (to me) weblogs to share which I can across during the transition period:

  • Vintage Pop is the latest venture from J.D. Roth of Folded Space. This one deals in early 20th century American pop culture, and he’s already off to a great start (and thanks for helping me out, J.D.!).
  • Condour of Wacky Neighbor has embarked on another project in the form of Smallist, a weblog dealing with all things miniscule. It’s fascinating the variety of stuff one can write about in such a small area, no pun intended.
  • I came across The Hits Just Keep Comin’ after the proprietor linked to a scrubbles post. Nice writings on pop music of the recent past, especially as it relates to the Billboard charts (a freaky obsession of mine). Loved the recent post on the vaguely psychedelic ez-listening obscurity “1900 Yesterday” by Liz Damon & The Orient Express (among other tunes).
  • Modeling Midcentury Modern comes from a guy who does these amazing 3-D models of vintage buildings. His rendering of the Monsanto House of the Future was recently linked on The Disney Blog, but my personal fave might be this nifty old-skool Jack In The Box.

Impossible Mission II

Out of curiosity I went to the local Wal-Mart and Target to see if they had any Nintendo Wiis in stock. Neither had them, although at Wal-Mart I was treated to a blowsy woman yelling “They got the GAMES only!” into her cell phone.

By far the best (well, only) videogame related news I heard today — Impossible Mission is coming back. And it will be available on the Wii. Loved playing that one on the Commodore 64. And here’s a review of the Wii’s downloadable classic games.

Working in the LAB

I’m proud to be a part of the first issue of LAB magazine, a new online and print publication (you can download a pdf at the site). According to the intro from editor Joseph Robertson, the magazine will focus on various independent creative types — “a new breed who are actively creating what they want to see in the media and in the market, not content to sit still and passively consume the same old slop.” Gnarly, huh? I contributed a comic titled “My Workday” detailing a typical day in this freelance designer’s life. The comic stands as somewhat of an exaggeration, but not really — you’ll have to see it. This inagural issue is jam-packed with interviews and articles on people like Derek Powazek, Ray Fenwick and my bestest friend Julie Jackson of Subversive Cross Stich fame (her piece is illustrated with the S.C.S. mascot I created for her, a lady we informally call “retrohead gal”). Nice work, Joseph!