Archive of: history

  • The origins of the Web

    The web is like the ship of Theseus—so much of it has been changed and added to over time. That doesn’t mean its initial design was flawed—just the opposite. It means that its initial design wasn’t unnecessarily rigid. The simplicity of the early web wasn’t a bug, it was a feature.

    Jeremy Keith on the origins of the web and the false idea that it was designed solely for sharing documents.

  • IRIX usability report from 1993

    This report on an IRIX OS release from 1993 shows that the more things change, the more things stay the same.

    It’s full of great advice such as:

    Aim for simplicity in design, not complexity. Make a few things work really well; don’t have 1000 flaky programs. Be willing to cut features; who’s going to be more pissed off: a customer who was promised a feature that doesn’t appear, or the same customer who gets the promised feature, and after months of struggling with it, discovers he can’t make it work?

    And a few brilliant burns:

    Marketing - Engineering Disconnect: “Marketing – where the rubber meets the sky.”

    (via O’Reilly Ideas’ 4 Short Links)

  • The past

    Coronet 6-6, Cornbury Park

    Around 5 years ago I had to put my belongings in storage due to a pending move.

    5 years later I finally got them back, and while unpacking my cameras I realised that the Coronet 6-6 still had a film in it.

    Yesterday I got the film back from the developers.

    As best as I can remember (comparing them to existing digital shots from the time, plus when I received the camera), they were taken in Cornbury Park, during the winter of 2010, while I was working at Torchbox.

    This camera was a present from Auntie Marie, who is now sadly gone. So although the memories are bitter sweet, it’s a nice reminder of the power of photography.

  • Time

    Today, on the 13th May 2015, I stood at the top of Elizabeth Tower, next to Big Ben as it struck 3pm.

    Hey look kids, there's Big Ben, and there's Parliament…

    Sometimes our memory can be fuzzy about where we were, or what we were doing, at a particular moment in history, but I will always know exactly where I was at 3pm on the 13th May 2015.

    That’s a moment in time that hadn’t happened before, and won’t happen again, and it’s mine.

  • The power of metadata

    Two Way Street is a fantastic example of what you can do with good metadata around objects. Built by the team at Good, Form & Spectacle it allows you to explore the British Museum collection by multiple facets, including acquisition date, acquisition source, type, material, techniques, and many more.

  • Text lasts

    Text lasts. It’s not platform-dependant, you don’t just get it from one source, read it in one place, understand it in one way. It is not dependent on technology: it is what we make technology out of. Code is text, it is the fundamental nature of technology. We’ve been trying for decades, since the advent of hypertext fiction, of media-rich CD-ROMs, to enhance the experience of literature with multimedia. And it has failed, every time.

    James Bridle – The New Value of Text.

  • It's got dents and burns

    You look at the shuttle, it’s not as if it’s this pristine, shining, gleaming piece of metallic technology – it looks like a ship, it’s got dents and burns and inside multiple crews have whacked the paintwork and you can see scratches and things. They are ships that have been operated and lived in and done these incredible voyages all with their individual characters.

    Piers Sellers, meteorologist and NASA astronaut.

  • A visual history of the credit card

    Fascinating insights via this visual history of the credit card from

    The first bank credit card, the BankAmericard, was unveiled when Bank of America gave out 60,000 unsolicited cards in Fresno, Calif., in 1958. Unlike in the past, when getting a loan might have meant taking a trip to the bank’s basement, this card was a ticket for anyone to spend freely and decide when was best to pay it back.

    Times have changed that’s for sure.

  • Looking down the barrel of a gun

    Starting when she was 16, Ria van Dijk would go to the fair and play on the shooting gallery. Every time she hit the target a camera was triggered to take a picture, which the shooter would as a prize. “In almost every picture #7“ is the result. A chronological series of shots (pun intended) between 1936 and the present day.

    Now 88, Ria van Dijk is still shooting.

    Hat tip: Kottke.

  • The first digital camera

    In December of 1975, after a year of piecing together a bunch of new technology in a back lab at the Elmgrove Plant in Rochester, we were ready to try it. “It” being a rather odd-looking collection of digital circuits that we desperately tried to convince ourselves was a portable camera.

    The story behind the world’s first digital camera

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