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The sexy ladies of Yugoslavian computer magazines
01.05.2017
09:19 am
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“Ignore the sex slave tumbling out of my monitor, it is a standard feature with this brand of personal computer…..”

The Serbian word računari means “computers”; thus Računari was the natural name for a long-running periodical in the Balkans catering to software and hardware enthusiasts in the burgeoning age of the “personal computer.”

It’s hard to remember now, but while Apple was getting all the critical plaudits, most workplaces considered their devices too esoteric and expensive for scaled use—back then it was Windows and IBM clones that got all the love and money, and most of the programmers designed their offerings for the MS-DOS market. Nearly forgotten today, names like WordPerfect, Lotus 1-2-3, and Visual Basic once constituted core components of the consumer computing landscape, and they all were featured prominently in Računari. That’s why you won’t see much attention paid to Apple products in these images—they had to weather the tough decade of the 1990s before resurfacing with the iMac and beyond.

It’s often been observed that Sarajevo went from being a proud and prosperous Olympic host city to one of the most hellish places on earth in the short span of time between 1984 and 1994. The end of the Cold War around 1990 brought unimaginable horrors to Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Croatia, and it’s worth noting that Računari, which started in 1984, never went out of print during all of that tumult, persisting through to the late 1990s. So it is that these otherwise mirthful images have a darker story to tell, of consumers seeking out computing products during a bloody civil war and the advertisers and retailers wishing to serve them. 

The editors of Računari surely were well aware that their product sector was a little on the dry side, so they spiced up most every cover with a sexy lady draped over this or that piece of mechanized future landfill. As you’ll see, some of the images get a little bizarre, but hey, all the better to get those copies moving off of the newsstand and into your living room, right?
 

“I am the Windows 3.1 go-go girl…..”
 

“We hope this bizarre bondage scene incentivizes you to purchase WordPerfect for Windows.”
 
More fun with Balkan computer cheesecake after the jump…...

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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01.05.2017
09:19 am
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Dreamy sci-fi paintings show the world after an alien invasion
07.22.2016
09:30 am
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While science fiction is a rich genre for both film and literature, the visual art it inspires—most frequently relegated to the covers of bad paperbacks—is very often astoundingly corny, regardless of how good the book it’s interpreting might actually be. Really good sci-fi art is really hard to come by, another reason why Simon Stålenhag is so singular; his post-invasion landscapes are dreamy, intense, and mysterious—completely devoid of the heavy-handed cheese one normally associates with paintings of robots and/or aliens taking over the earth.

Stålenhag has complied his work into two high-concept art books, Tales from the Loop and the sequel Things from the Flood, which comes out in November but is available for pre-order now. Ground Zero for Stålenhag’s dystopia is an alternative Sweden from his own ’80s and ’90s childhood, where experiments with a massive particle accelerator—“The Loop”—go terribly wrong. Despite the disaster, Stålenhag likes to focus on the quiet and the mundane countryside, now irrevocably altered by mysterious invaders. Still, there is an intimacy to his work, with special attention to the domestic lives, childhoods and romances of the people living in this chaotic new world.
 

 

 
Much more of Simon Stålenhag’s work after the jump…

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Posted by Amber Frost
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07.22.2016
09:30 am
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Pictures of women using boxy office computers from the early 1980s
02.29.2016
11:40 am
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In early February Tara McGinley ran a really wonderful post on DM with the title “Photos of Women and Giant-Ass Mainframe Computers from the 1960s”—I don’t know if the people at Retrospace were paying attention, but in any case a couple weeks later they ran a pretty rad gallery called “Women at Computers,” which focused on the go-go years of 1979 to 1991.

This is the era in which most of the Michael Fassbender movie Steve Jobs takes place, but you won’t see a single Apple product anywhere in this gallery—in fact, nothing could make Jobs’ case of the importance of his company’s success in that movie better than the clunky DOS-munchers on display here. The big boxy models pictured here in the gray casings are all Radio Shack products—in the early 1980s their signature product was called the TRS-80. Most of the rest are from Xerox, which famously pissed away mountains of valuable interface research in the early 1970s.

For an amusing history of the era in which most of these things were manufactured, you can’t go wrong with Robert X. Cringely’s Accidental Empires.

Added bonus: some of the earliest documented examples of mansplaining in the tech world!
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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02.29.2016
11:40 am
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Photos of women and giant-ass mainframe computers from the 1960s
02.02.2016
09:51 am
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Computer Operators
 
All hail the vintage female geek culture from the polyester past! These splendid images come from Lawrence Harley “Larry” Luckham. Yep, that’s his name. Anyway, he used to work for Bell Labs back in ‘60s “managing a data center and developing an ultra high speed information retrieval system.”

I took a camera to work and shot the pictures below. I had a great staff, mostly women except for the programmers who were all men. For some reason only one of them was around for the pictures that day.

Women and giant-ass computers! What more could you ask for? So retro-looking that they’re almost futuristic!

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Computer Operations Supervisor
 
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Computer Operations Supervisor
 

 
More after the jump…
 

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Posted by Tara McGinley
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02.02.2016
09:51 am
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‘The Mighty Micro’: J.G. Ballard’s best friend introduces the microprocessor on British TV, 1979
10.23.2015
08:50 am
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J.G. Ballard told the Paris Review that one of his most important sources was a friend’s trash.

As far as reading for research is concerned, I’ve always been very fortunate in my friends. For years, Dr. Christopher Evans, a psychologist in the computer branch of the National Physical Laboratory (whom I visited regularly until his death—his lab was just a ten-minute drive away), literally sent me the contents of his wastebasket. Once a fortnight, a huge envelope arrived filled with scientific reprints and handouts, specialist magazines and reports, all of which I read carefully.

In his last book, the autobiography Miracles of Life, Ballard sketched his late friend, who died of cancer in 1979, during the filming of his last TV series, The Mighty Micro:

Chris Evans drove into my life at the wheel of a Ford Galaxy, a huge American convertible that he soon swapped for a Mini-Cooper, a high-performance car not much bigger than a bullet that travelled at about the same speed. Chris was the first ‘hoodlum scientist’ I had met, and he became the closest friend I have made in my life. In appearance he resembled Vaughan, the auto-destructive hero of my novel Crash, though he himself was nothing like that deranged figure. Most scientists in the 1960s, especially at a government laboratory, wore white lab coats over a collar and tie, squinted at the world over the rims of their glasses and were rather stooped and conventional. Glamour played no part in their job description.

Chris, by contrast, raced around his laboratory in American sneakers, jeans and a denim shirt open to reveal an Iron Cross on a gold chain, his long black hair and craggy profile giving him a handsomely Byronic air. I never met a woman who wasn’t immediately under his spell. A natural actor, he was at his best on the lecture platform, and played to his audience’s emotions like a matinee idol, a young Olivier with a degree in computer science. He was hugely popular on television, and presented a number of successful series, including The Mighty Micro.

I’m afraid Evans’ producers at ITC made him cover up his Iron Cross, but The Mighty Micro is up on YouTube (except episode two, which you can find at archive.org), and it’s fascinating to watch. Based on Evans’ book of the same name, the series looks at the history of counting machines, calculators and computers in order to understand the radical changes the microprocessor will bring about over the coming decades.

Of course, some of the show’s predictions are wide of the mark. Citizens of the UK were not able to vote through their television sets by the mid-80s, computers have not eliminated war, and as you are no doubt painfully aware, robots have not yet replaced our teachers or bosses, or delivered the five-day weekend. The series’ emphasis on the psychological dimension of technological change, however, is properly Ballardian, and many of its claims are eerily prescient. The third episode hints at the ways our notions of privacy will be reshaped by computers; the fourth, which includes a look at a 1979 prototype of a Kindle-type device, ends with this message-in-a-bottle to the present moment:

The one note of warning is sounded by the compelling nature of the computer itself. Increasingly, it will draw you into an obsessive embrace, where the world comes to you in your home. The current limitless fascination with microprocessor-based toys is but a tiny indicator of the trend towards an introverted society.

With the computer as an increasingly interesting and useful companion, could the factories and office blocks empty, commuter lines fall silent, as we retreat into our own private universe?

 

(Episodes two, three, four, five and six)

Posted by Oliver Hall
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10.23.2015
08:50 am
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1976 Apple computer made of wood
12.24.2012
09:28 am
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Indulge me a little romance for technology long past. I generally avoid waxing nostalgic over the time before people like me got to live on the Internet all day, but there’s something so compelling about the primordial technology that served only brief, esoteric purpose.

Long before computers were mass-produced, you had arcane wooden lovelies like this one, hand-made by Steve Wozniak himself. There’s undeniable warmth to the console, and not just because of the organic materials; the wood-shop quality reveals a creator, and the personal touches connect us to a craftsman, as well as a programmer.

A model like this one (only 200 were made) originally sold for $666.66, though collectors now pay up to $50,000.

 

Posted by Amber Frost
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12.24.2012
09:28 am
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‘All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace’ Episode 1


 
The first episode in the new series by Adam Curtis, All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace is now available to watch in full on YouTube.

Starting by examining our current era of supposed economic, social and online freedoms, Curtis manages to join the dots between Ayn Rand, Alan Greenspan, the IMF’s involvement in East Asia, radical Islam and Silicon Valley’s economic boom. This episode features some very interesting and candid interviews with Rand confidants Nathaniel and Barbara Branden, Nathaniel having had an affair with Rand that lasted many years. Presented in the typical, excellent Adam Curtis style, using lots of obscure stock footage and a great soundtrack, this is essential viewing.
 

 
Episode two of All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace (“How The Idea Of The Ecosystem Was Invented”) is available to watch here.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace: Trailer for Adam Curtis Doc
Adam Curtis on the death of Bin Laden

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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06.03.2011
08:45 am
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Jonathan Viner’s paintings of ‘70s-style computer geeks
03.30.2011
04:48 pm
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Ha! These are great! New York-based artist Jonathan Viner paints “computer geeks” from our 70s mainframe past. His solo exhibition, “COMPUTER SCIENCE” is currently being shown March 31 to April 30, 2011 at Sloan Fine Art.

Shortly after his first son was born, artist Jonathan Viner naturally had fatherhood and his own childhood on his mind. As children, Viner and his twin brother spent hours visiting the robotics lab at the New York Institute of Technology, where their father taught and worked. Faded memories of “computer nerds” playing Dungeons and Dragons, sharing ideas, and celebrating on New Year’s Eve came back to him as the artist shuttled between infant care, painting and conversations with artists, critics and enthusiasts over Facebook.

Inspired by the stunning impact these unlikely heroes from his childhood have had on the world, Viner began hunting online for class photos of computer science majors from the 1970’s. Those old photos, mined through Google on an iPad, became the starting point for “COMPUTER SCIENCE.”

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More after the jump…

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Posted by Tara McGinley
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03.30.2011
04:48 pm
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‘Look, I’m on television!’: Steve Jobs preps for the big time

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Six years after he graduated high school, and four years after the LSD experiences that he’s called “one of the two or three most important things I’ve done in my life,” and less than two years after he co-founded a company named after a fruit, the biological son of graduate students Abdulfattah Jandali and Joanne Simpson prepped nervously for his first TV interview.

Ya gotta figure most game-changers have found themselves “deathly ill and ready to throw up at any moment,” right?
 

 
Thanks, Cameron Macdonald!

Posted by Ron Nachmann
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02.09.2011
11:19 pm
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