Design Celebrating the First 2000 Years of Computing

As the world looks back on the outstanding innovations Steve Jobs gifted our society, a small San Francisco-based design firm knows first-hand just how far we’ve come tech-wise. Creative Directors Erik Schmitt and Julio Martínez of studio1500 have spent the last three years working with Silicon Valley’s Computer History Museum, rebranding this major institution which houses the world’s largest collection of computer artifacts. Earlier this year the design team’s final efforts were unveiled in a new 25,000 square-foot permanent exhibition, “Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing.”

Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing

design by studio1500

Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing

design by studio1500

Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing

design by studio1500

Creating everything but the actual exhibit itself–from identity and signage to catalog design and posters–Schmitt and Martínez successfully troubleshot the challenging task of tracing the computer’s evolution from abacus to smart phone (with thousands of innovations sandwiched between). But the real challenge? “This museum is like the Smithsonian of Silicon Valley,” explains the team. “But we couldn’t let history overwhelm the design, as they also explore the contemporary landscape.”  So walking a fine line between a rich past and a pioneering future, studio1500 dialed-up simple elements, bold typography, and the museum’s amazing archive of vintage images (as seen in the exhibit catalog below).

Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing

design by studio1500

Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing

design by studio1500

Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing

design by studio1500

“Some of the machines are just so visually stunning,” says studio1500. “Even if you don’t know what the function is, you’re drawn in by their raw beauty.”  From the ENIAC machine used in World War II to the computer that guided Apollo to the moon, “You can’t help but geek out – it’s sheer genius,” the design duo adds.

Check out a few of the antiquated innovations on display:

image courtesy Mark Richards / Computer History Museum

Above: The Herman Hollerith Machine designed to process data for the 1890 U.S. Census.

Computer History Museum

image courtesy Mark Richards / Computer History Museum

Above: UNIVAC (Universal Automatic Computer) – the first commercial computer in the U.S., circa 1950s.

Below: The Apple II introduced in 1977.

image courtesy Mark Richards / Computer History Museum

“You walk through the exhibit and really see that technology has had a profound influence on just about everything we do now. And the goal for our entire design system was to tell this story,” says studio1500.


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