Archive for the 'History' Category

Mac reaches the big Three O

Posted by Jennifer L. Bowie, Ph.D. on January 25th, 2014

NPR had a great story about the Mac turning 30 in which they talked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook. The story reminded me of why I am in usability and how innovative the Mac and Apple are/is. The Mac brought a user-centered interface to the users—a GUI (Graphical User Interface). When they designed it […]

Courier was designed by Howard Kettler in 1955, as a commission for IBM. Kettler originally planned to call the typeface “Messenger,” but showing his true typographer stripes, went with the name he thought displayed the advantages of his typeface. According to Tom Vanderbilt, Kettler explained his choice, saying “A letter can be just an ordinary […]

Back in the good ‘ol days of typewriters, writers used a tab indent to show where a new paragraph begins. Back in the good ‘ol days of the early web (think 1993), browsers were setup to render paragraphs with a line of white space after. More recently (say 2007), Microsoft decided that both were a […]

Typeface of the Week: Garamond—The elegant typeface that lives and saves trees!

Posted by Jennifer L. Bowie, Ph.D. on July 28th, 2011

Garamond is not a single typeface. Rather, Garamond is group of typefaces inspired and derived/revived from the work of punch-cutters Claude Garamond in ~1530 (according to and Jean Jannon a century later. While the typeface is named after Garamond, the face is closer to Jannon’s typefaces than Garamond’s (here is an image of Garamond’s […]

Use the correct, more readable, and preferred “curly” quotes in your writing. Due to first the advent of typewriters and later our good friend ASCII, the normal “curly” quotation marks of printing were turned into ambidextrous "straight" quotes. This saved two keys on typewriters (as only one is needed for the ‘single quote’ and one […]

The Internet Archive ( has huge collections of media and cultural artifacts available for access and use by “researchers, historians, scholars, and the general public” and of course web designers, bloggers, and media designers. Justin Lewis briefly discussed and recommended the Internet Archive in in Screen Space 15: An interview with Justin Lewis on “Copyleft, […]

Designing for the stars: The design of the final shuttle flight crew patch STS-135

Posted by Jennifer L. Bowie, Ph.D. on July 14th, 2011

I’ve often joked that I would love to design wine labels as a job. But I think an even cooler job would be to be the designer of the shuttle crew patches for the shuttle missions. In honor of the last NASA Shuttle launch, and because I think it is a pretty good design, I […]

Typeface of the Week: Verdana–a “verdant” choice for screen text!

Posted by Jennifer L. Bowie, Ph.D. on July 14th, 2011

Like its younger sister typeface Georgia, Verdana was designed by award-winning type designer Matthew Carter. Carter created Verdana for “maximum readability at small sizes on the screen” according to Virginia Howlett (the “mother of Verdana” who spearheaded the project to develop Verdana). The sans serif typeface  was made readable at smaller screen sizes with high […]

Typeface of the Week: Arial—A common mimic

Posted by Jennifer L. Bowie, Ph.D. on June 30th, 2011

Arial is a child of the licensing restriction “wars” of the 1980s. Adobe had the very popular Helvetica under a Type-1 format and were not sharing at the level others wanted. So, Arial was created by Monotype (a font foundry) as an alternative and easy substitute because it was the same width as Helvetica[1]. Visually, […]

Magical visual design from ~100 years ago

Posted by Jennifer L. Bowie, Ph.D. on June 28th, 2011

What is 137 years old, carries a bit of Victorian aesthetics, and can get out of anything? Houdini, of course. In March, Google celebrated Houdini’s 137 birthday with a doodle. The funky and fun thing about the doodle is that Google drew on Houdini’s show posters for the design, giving us a peek into late […]