July 21, 2024

Corner Manor Leura

Tech For A Smarter Planet

Technology and Design History (Timeline Infographics) Part 1

Have you ever wondered what attracted you in a new iPad, new smartphone, or any other modern gadget? Was it its fascinating technology or its simplicity of design? Design has become an essential communication tool and it’s hard to imaging new technology without it. I wanted to look at the history timeline to define correlation between technology and design and their impact on each other. I used an art history timeline to compare evolution of both areas.

1750-1850 The Industrial Revolution and Romanticism.

The first prominent interaction between technology and design (art at that time) began with the Industrial Revolution. Needless to say, the Industrial Revolution was the starting point in modern technology development and has changed the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times.

Design existed mostly in the form of art at that time and was in transition from Baroque movement (1600-1750) to Neoclassicism (1750-1850) and later – Romanticism (1780-1850). While Neoclassicism was inspired from the “classical” art and culture of Ancient Greece and Rome, Romanticism was already a reaction to the Industrial Revolution with its population growth, and urban sprawl. Romanticism portrayed the achievements of heroic individualists and artists, whose pioneering examples would elevate society.

Highlights of the period:

  • 1765 Steam Engine.
  • 1783 First Hot air balloon.
  • 1796 Lithographic printing process.
  • 1816 First photographic negative.
  • 1835 First photograph.
  • 1843 Typewriter invented.
  • 1847 Rotary printing press.

1850-1900 The Second Industrial Revolution and Realism.

The second part of the Industrial Revolution is also known as electromechanical age. The technological and economic progress lead to the development of steam-powered ships, railways, electrical power generation, and many more.

Visual art of the period was about truth and accuracy and was called Realism. Many paintings depicted people at work, emphasizing the changes brought by the Industrial Revolution. The advances in photography, made through 19th century, took popularity of Realism to the next level, creating a desire for people to reflect everyday reality. Art during the second half of the 19th century was called Impressionism and emphasized an accurate depiction of light that could have been influenced by discoveries of photography.

Highlights of the period:

  • 1867 Dynamite.
  • 1876 Telephone.
  • 1879 Electric light bulb.
  • 1892 Diesel engine.
  • 1894 Radio waves.

1880-1914 Art Nouveau.

By the end of the 19th century machine-made art production was increasing. The first device that could easily and quickly set complete lines of type for use in printing presses – the Linotype machine (1886) – revolutionized the art of printing. This invention increased demand in typography and resulted in design of Akzidenz Grotesk (1898) – the first sans serif typeface to be widely used.

The same 1898 was a year of the first commercial motion picture. Soon followed by many others, initiating a new, separate form of visual art – Motion pictures.

This period was critical in the history of design as it branched out from the art, making its way into all types of commercial design. The movement called Art Nouveau initiated graphic and advertising design and by 1909 magazines had become major ad channels. Art continued evolving from one movement to another – from Post-Impressionism, Expressionism to Cubism and others.

Highlights of the period:

  • 1886 Linotype (typesetting) machine.
  • 1892 Alternating current generator.
  • 1900 First mass-marketed camera – the Brownie.
  • 1903 Powered airplane.
  • 1907 Color photography and helicopter.
  • 1908 First mass-production of the Ford Model T automobile.

1910-1930 Art Deco.

The growth of the professional graphic design industry has grown in parallel with the rise of consumerism. While technology continued improving and monetizing its inventions, design was evolving into communication tool. Art Deco was an ornamental design style based on geometric shapes inspired by technologies such as aviation, radio, electric lighting, and others. Its linear symmetry was a distinct step towards simplicity from the flowing asymmetrical organic curves of its predecessor style Art Nouveau. Art Deco design was suitable to be read from a speeding car.

In 1919 the first model of the modern art school was founded in Germany – the Bauhaus.It had a profound influence in art, architecture, typography and all forms of design, eventually providing the framework for modern design.

Highlights of the period:

  • 1919 First air service and first electric typewriter.
  • 1920s Regular wireless broadcasts for entertainment.
  • 1923 Television Electronic and first sound film.

1930-1945 Modernism.

Technology of the Industrial Revolution found its way into daily life of ordinary people. Electricity, the telephone, the radio, the automobile created the most visible social changes of that period. The need to learn, work, and live with the technology demanded new skills and ability to perceive lots of information.

Modern ideas in art and design appeared in commercials and logos in rejection of the ornate flourishes of preceded design styles. With increased amount of new information that an average person had to grasp, the need for clear, easily recognizable and memorable design increased as well. Straight lines, minimalism, lack of clutter, primary colors prevailed in the design and art of Modernism.

Times New Roman font was designed (1932). First TV commercial was aired from Bulova Watch Company with the slogan “America runs of Bulova time!” (1941).

Highlights of the period:

  • 1936 BBC began transmitting world’s first public service.
  • 1937 Jet engine.
  • 1938 Ballpoint pen.
  • 1941 Kodak negative film.
  • 1943 Aqua-lung.
  • 1945 The atomic bomb.

1955-1980 Pop Art and Minimalism.

Post-war technology of that period cheered us up with various great inventions and gave birth to a new type of human species – geeks. Invention of a personal computer dramatically impacted and forever changed the way people live, work, and communicate.

In art history this period is known as Pop Art and Minimalism, which we can see reflected in design as well. The rise of different media forms and the modern advertising industry increased the need for a readable, easily displayed typeface. The new font, designed for simplicity, was Neue Haas Grotesk font (1957), later renamed Helvetica. With the rise of personal computing in the 80s, Helvetica was replaced by Arial as a digital standard.

Minimalism played critical role in advertising as well. Among clustered and flashy ads appeared a new, simplified advertising approach. “Think Small” ad campaign (1959) for the Volkswagen Beetle became the No. 1 campaign of the 20th century.

Highlights of the period:

  • 1951 The Universal Automatic Computer (Univac).
  • 1956 Videocassette recorder.
  • 1961 The first human to orbit the Earth.
  • 1968 First computer mouse.
  • 1968 Computer video game, compact discs, and email.
  • 1974 Personal computer.

1980 – 2000 Postmodernism.

With the release of first Macintosh computer in 1984 a new era has began in technology and design – an era of collaboration. Technology continues to open new doors in consumerism and every day life, but design drives the esthetics and usability of the most tech innovations. Apple computers gained popularity not for its unique technology (first personal computer was created a decade before Mac), but for its unique design and simplicity.

Apple created a new standard in design – in web, print, advertising, marketing, product design, but didn’t invent any of the above. It surely was the first to successfully leverage symbiosis between technology and design.

In 1990 first Photoshop software was released and at that point technology gave everything it could at that time to invite design on its side.

Highlights of the period:

  • 1984 First Macintosh computer from Apple, featuring bitmap graphics.
  • 1985 CD-ROM; digital imaging processor by Pixar.
  • 1990 World Wide Web.
  • 1994 Online Advertising.
  • 1995 DVD.

Ever since industrial revolution technology began developing rapidly and today it occupies every corner of human life. Though art as a form of communication existed way before technology (since cave men), it only became a powerful communication tool after merging with technology in the mid of 20th century.

So, even though art and technology had different roots and developing process, both are now parts of one inseparable unit. One cannot exist without the other.