Nostalgic for the Digital Revolution: Interfacing With Obsolesce

“Nostalgic for the Digital Revolution: Interfacing With Obsolesce.” Terminal 2.0: Graphical User Interface, Exhibition Catalogue, Western Front (Vancouver: 2016).

Terminal 2.0: Graphical User Interface
Presented by Western Front in Vancouver, British Columbia on November 10 —​ ​January 7​, 2016.

Amy Lockhart, Barry Doupé, Marisa Olson, & Mark Pellegrino

Where command line interfaces end, graphical user interfaces begin: a virtual working space that opened up new possibilities for digital drawing and animation. TERMINAL 2.0 takes up this phase in computer progress through the Amiga, a family of personal computers sold by Commodore in the 1980s and 1990s. In this context, the Amiga stands in for many models of home computer that were avidly competing for the attention of users interested in graphics. The capabilities of an Amiga made it ideal for multitasking, and it was sold as a ‘multi-media’ machine. Early demonstrations foregrounded its potential as a creative tool, including an infamous 1985 launch event featuring Andy Warhol using the computer to ‘paint’ a digital portrait of Debbie Harry.

Mindful of such stories of pop-technology lore, this second installation in the TERMINAL series turns toward the problem of nostalgia, and hype. Technology and its uses are frequently found to be the subject of outlandish claims: be they ideals of a technological revolution or defining the use of one machine over another as ‘cool.’ Such projections have had a tendency to fetishize design over functionality, focusing on technology as an extension of style, as much or even more than as a tool to extend human behaviours. 

Humble tools for creativity and expression, like the software Deluxe Paint, mark an early moment in an ensuing explosion of graphics capabilities. Today, the widespread manifestation of our ability to render digital images can appear as a practical collapse of virtual and physical visual cultures. It is almost quaint to remember a time when moving images on a computer screen were a novelty. This seemingly all-pervasive new standard of human-machine interaction (be it at a desk, in a car, at a bank machine or in our new extensions into the Internet of Things) can at times be alarming, sickening and disruptive. 

This project asks for a return to early graphics-capable devices, to think both about technology and its uses but also to view its results. At the Western Front, inside a tiny room now hangs a single framed print of a digital painting,Three Cats in a Tree (2016) by Barry Doupé, Mark Pellegrino’s animation exploring early BBS culture, G.I.R.L. (2013) and Marisa Olson’s (Untitled) (2016) from the series Time Capsules, a golden Amiga 500 that has been gilded into irreversible obsolescence. Such items together in this space extol on technology’s appeals as features, virtues or a ruses, depending on how one looks. 

Installed on this site are two digital animations – one by Doupé and a series of shorts by Amy Lockhart, whose sparse idiosyncratic styles thrive within this context. Taking up this online environment as a natural component of thinking about computers, TERMINAL aims to foreground such locations (both of works and of viewers) and the ways in which computers act as conduits for cultural consumption.

With this in mind, the online venue also hosts a newly commissioned essay by Clint Enns reflecting on the historical progression of graphical user interfaces. Nostalgia for the Digital Revolution: Interfacing with Obsolescence picks up on the themes introduced here, working through them and sheds more light on the entanglement of artists with computers as creative tools that shall continue to be the focus of this series. 

With this I encourage you to linger here for the duration of the videos, and to consider the essay’s explorations through some of the visual roots of our present day condition.

Nostalgic for the Digital Revolution: Interfacing With Obsolesce

“Obsolescence never meant the end of anything – it’s just the beginning.” 

Marshall McLuhan

Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) are the graphical displays through which users interact with electronic devices. Most familiar among these are the modern computer desktop with graphical icons (such as file folders), menus, and mouse cursor. GUIs were developed as an attempt to make interactions with computers more “accessible,” and can be seen as a departure from command-line interfaces (CLIs), which involve operating a computer through typed commands. GUIs transform the computer into a non-linear, point-and-click device that ultimately allows the user to explore the onscreen options presented to them. In contrast, CLIs are linear and encourage users to understand the fundamentals of computer programming through learning basic computer commands (i.e. RUN, LIST, LOAD, PRINT, etc.).

Screenshot of Commodore 64’s BASIC V2 Command Line Interface.

Despite making the computer more “user-friendly,” GUIs transform the computer into a blackbox device in which the underlying processes (i.e., the operating system, software, and code) are rendered invisible to most users. As media theorist Wendy Chun observes, 

Because of this, [GUIs] render central processes for computation – processes not under the direct control of the user – daemonic: orphaned yet “supernatural” beings “between gods and men . . . ghosts of deceased persons, esp. deified heroes.” Indeed, the interface is “haunted” by processes hidden by our seemingly transparent GUIs that make us even more vulnerable online, from malicious “back doors” to mundane data gathering.1

Chun here articulates the esoteric nature of the computational processes hidden behind “user-friendly” interfaces. For instance, it is easy to forget that digital image manipulation requires complex algorithms and mathematics when a program like Adobe Photoshop allows you to manipulate the image in real-time. Given that the majority of our interactions with computers are through GUIs, it is not the goal of this essay to demonize GUIs for their obfuscation or to celebrate them for making computers more accessible. Instead, following an argument developed by Chun in her book Programmed Visions, this essay will attempt to further problematize our relationship to GUIs by exploring their various histories, by examining some of the ideas surrounding them, and by analyzing artworks that engage with them. 

From Sketchpad to Desktop: A Brief History of Graphical User Interfaces

Primitive GUIs were first developed as part of military projects such as Project Whirlwind and SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Enhancement).2 Whirlwind, conceived by MIT scientists, was the first digital computer able to operate in real-time and was intended to track military aircrafts. The Whirlwind’s TX series became the first computers to display data on a screen (modified from surplus radar systems), a departure from using ticker-tape or paper printouts, and also the first to use a light pen stylus (a predecessor to the mouse or trackpad), making them the first known computers involving GUIs.

Computer pioneer Jay Forrester and staff working at Whirlwind.

Following its successful development, the Whirlwind was repurposed to perform a variety of tasks including “census tabulation, large-scale payroll processing, creating artillery firing tables, air traffic control,” and even to calculate “the exact amount of vanilla icing to stuff into Oreo cookies.”3

Responding to the perceived threat of nuclear war by the Soviets, the U.S. government desired a more advanced computer system. By 1956, SAGE was initiated by the U.S. Air Force in order to design an early-warning radar system that could track and detect Soviet nuclear bombers, rendering Project Whirlwind, in essence, obsolete.4 Despite this, the Whirlwind continued to have a useful afterlife. Once Project Whirlwind was shut down by the U.S. Air Force, the TX series became available to MIT researchers, a development that will be returned to later in this essay.

An upgrade from the Whirlwind, SAGE involved fifty-six IBM computers that each cost $30 million, with each occupying “twenty thousand square feet of space and weigh[ing] 250 tons, all to produce one megabyte of information.”5 Although SAGE was initially tasked with monitoring nuclear threat by Soviet forces, the way the console was configured laid the foundations for both home and corporate computing. For instance, the SAGE had a telephone modem, keyboard, light pen, digital real-time control, magnetic-core memory, and CRT graphical user display.

A SAGE operator at the console, holding a light pen.

Moreover, reflecting the military and corporate environments of the time, the SAGE had Mad Men-esque 1950s “charm” and even came complete with its own built-in cigarette lighter and ashtray.

The IBM 360 introduced in Season 7 of Mad Men. The monolithic computer is a metaphor for the changing times; however, it also triggers Michael Ginsberg (Ben Feldman) to cut off his own nipple, an act that can be read as Ginsberg’s attempt to reclaim his masculinity.6

The cathode ray tube (CRT) display screen that has become ubiquitous for desktop computing can likewise be traced to an earlier analogue device utilized by the military, namely, radar. The radar interface allowed the user, a trained military officer, to interact with the screen via a light pen. The light pen allowed the user to select suspicious blinking lights in order to alert other military personal of potential Soviet aircrafts carrying nuclear bombs. The GUI developments of SAGE allowed for the user to interact with the computer by making physical, real-time contact, a form of interaction that remains integral to our use of most computer systems. In radar, positional data of air traffic, represented by blinking lights on a screen, takes precedence over the underlying algorithms that support this process. With the technical processes now hidden from the user, the computer becomes a translational tool – that is, the computer translates data into visual information and treats the user’s inputs as real-time data. As Chun observes, the SAGE screen “was an input device for the user, not for the programmers/coders who produced taped programs that operators would load and run.”7 In other words, a new hierarchy was formed between the coders and the users: coders maintain and control the architecture of a system while users access its functionality and outcomes.

GUI developments, like many other forms of technological experimentation, often occur when hardware is rendered obsolete. For example, when Project Whirlwind was declared out of date, the TX series became available to MIT researchers such as Ivan Sutherland, who began using the system for previously unimagined purposes. Sutherland, often considered the “father of computer graphics,” had unprecedented access to a TX-2 (“the Tixo”) at MIT’s Lincoln Lab while in the process of completing his PhD thesis. In 1962, Sutherland used this access to create Sketchpada drawing program that he described as “a man-machine graphical communication system”; others have called it “one of the most influential programs ever made.”8 Animation scholar Tom Sito explains:

There was no need for any written language [with Sketchpad], no points to enter. All you did was draw and articulate some buttons marked “erase” and “move.” [Sutherland] developed something called “rubber banding” where you created one point and by moving the pen you stretched a line to another part of the screen, anchoring it as your second point. Also, you could turn objects and the entire wireframe, not just a particular line, would move as one unit.9

Sketchpad was the first interactive real-time graphic system that allowed the user to “draw” on the computer without typing commands.

Excerpt of a 1964 episode of Science Reporter with Ivan Sutherland demonstrating Sketchpad.

In the same period that Sutherland was developing Sketchpad, Ken Knowlton and Michael Noll were working at Bell Labs (Bell Telephone Laboratories) developing similar software, with the goal of making computer graphics accessible to artists and filmmakers. In 1963, Knowlton developed BEFLIX (Bell Flicks), a computer program that once loaded on the IBM 7094 through a stack of punch cards allowed artists to directly manipulate images on a CRT with a light pen.

A Computer Technique for the Production of Animated Movies (1963).

In 1966, Bell Labs paired Knowlton with experimental filmmakers Lillian Schwartz, Stan VanDerBeek, and Frank Sinden, collaborations that would produce some of the earliest computer animations such as Mutations (Schwartz, 1973) and the Poem Field series (VanDerBeek and Knowlton, 1964-1967).

Excerpt of Ken Knowlton and Stan VanDerBeek’s Poem Field series (1964-1967).
John K. Ball’s The Artist and the Computer (1976), an early documentary about Lillian Schwartz and her work.

Knowlton explains:

Bell Telephone Laboratories, as my colleagues and I experienced it during the 1960s and 1970s, was a beehive of scientific and technological scurrying. Practitioners within, tethered on long leashes if at all, were earnestly seeking enigmatic solutions to arcane puzzles. What happened there would have baffled millions of telephone subscribers who, knowing or not, supported the quiet circus.10

While a hub for artistic production in the 60s and 70s, Bell Labs in fact started working with artists in the 1950s, when they sponsored visual music pioneer Mary Ellen Bute’s experiments with moving image production involving an oscilloscope, an early GUI that allowed an electrical signal to be measured by analyzing the waveform generated against a graph built into the screen of the instrument.11 

Mary Ellen Bute with cathode-ray oscilloscope.
Still from Abstronic (1952) made by Mary Ellen Bute and Ted Nemeth (an engineer and Bute’s eventual husband).

December 9, 1968, marked a major turning point in the popular understanding of GUIs. At the Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco, Dr. Douglas Engelbart and the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) presented the “The Mother of All Demos” to over 1,000 computer enthusiasts.12 

“The Mother of All Demos” (1968) presented by Douglas Engelbart.

The demo was part performance video and part computer demonstration, and was projected into the auditorium using a Eidophor video projector onto a 22′ × 18′ screen that used picture-in-picture and superimposition to simultaneously display a screen capture of the computer’s output and live video feeds of Engelbart and his research team, some of whom where at the Stanford lab thirty miles away. Computer engineer Bill English (who helped invent the mouse) used a video switcher to control what was presented on the screen while Stewart Brand, the editor of the Whole Earth Catalog, ran the camera.13 In this demo, many elements that were to become fundamental to contemporary home computers were introduced to the general public for the first time, including: windows, hypertext, graphics, video conferencing, word processing, dynamic file linking, revision control, and navigation using a wooden mouse and keyboard. Suddenly, computer files could be managed and manipulated using a mouse and cursor instead of typed code. The demo was extremely well received, prompting a standing ovation from the crowd. Moreover, the demo was the inspiration for the WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) methodology inherent in most contemporary GUIs. The foundations of the Digital Revolution were being set.14

Basement Revolutionaries: The Rise of Home Computing

In July 1945, The Atlantic magazine published visionary computer engineer Vannevar Bush’s “As We May Think,” in which Bush “predicted a future home workstation he called a Memex, with electronic screens that would store a complete library as well as recordings and communications.”15

Vannevar Bush’s 1945 Memex as realized by father/daughter team Trevor F. Smith and Sparks Webb in 2014.

In April 1973, Bush’s prophecy was realized when Xerox PARC booted up the first desktop computer, the Alto. The Alto originally sold for $23,000, “with the mouse alone costing $300,” but the cost was eventually reduced to $16,500.16 Even after this reduction, the computer proved to be too expensive to appeal to the general public and only 2,000 units were ever sold.17

The Digital Revolution that began in the late 60s with “The Mother of All Demos” gained significant momentum in the late 70s and early 80s with personal computers entering millions of homes worldwide. In 1977, the “holy trinity” of affordable personal home computers was released and included Tandy RadioShack’s TRS-80 ($600 with monitor); the Apple II ($1,298, computer only); and Commodore’s PET (Personal Electronic Transactor), the first all-in-one computer integrating keyboard, monitor and cassette recorder ($795).18 Early uses of these home computers included games and office applications such as word processors, spreadsheets, and database programs; however, many enthusiasts began to develop their own software and a wide variety of development tools and programming resources were made to available to the public.

In an attempt to produce affordable home computers, all three of the “holy trinity” had CLIs and operated without the GUIs that had been developed at the forefront of military technology decades prior. GUIs didn’t enter the realm of home computing until a few years later with Apple Lisa (released in 1983 for $9,995), Apple Macintosh (released in 1984 for $2,495), and Magic Desk for the Commodore 64 (released in 1982 for $595.19 

Screen capture of Magic Desk.

The revolutionary potential of the computer was said to be embodied in such early home computers. For instance, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak explains, “our first computers were born not out of greed or ego, but in the revolutionary spirit of helping the common people rise above the most powerful institutions.”20 

Ridley Scott’s commercial 1984 (1984) for Apple’s Macintosh personal computer.

Commodore founder Jack Tramiel envisioned building computers for “the masses, not the classes.21 The development of GUIs further established the home computer as a comprehensible, user-friendly device by making the computer “people literate” as opposed to making people “computer literate.” However, in making the computer more accessible to the masses, a compromise of control was necessary. Scholar and programmer Roberto Dillon explains the importance of CLIs to many early programmers:

Having experienced those constraints [of working with BASIC 2.0 on the Commodore 64] and being forced to work at a lower level, instructing the machine step-by-step even for tasks as simple as deleting a file, may have actually helped aspiring developers in the long run. Having gained a better understanding of computer operations by surviving a rough start could have in fact eased the passage to more advanced programming later on, establishing the right mindset for writing complex applications and arcade quality games via an assembler, for example.22

In other words, using CLIs enabled some users to become more comfortable with computer programming. With a new focus on widespread user-friendly functionality, the computer’s purpose was reoriented. User control was comprised by the development of interfaces for users who were unconcerned with being able to program. Moreover, being able to write computer programs does not guarantee the ability to use computer programs designed by others, suggesting that these are two distinct knowledge streams. 

Given the user-friendly functionality of the GUI, many artists began to use consumer grade home computers to produce artworks. In contrast to the artists working at Bell Labs who collaborated with technicians on specialized computers that were not accessible to the general public, artists working with personal computers were able to create in the comfort of their own home using programs such as GraphiCraft and Deluxe Paint. Most famously, Andy Warhol demonstrated the ease-of-use of the Commodore Amiga at the 1985 launch of the Amiga 1000 by “painting” a scanned image of celebrity chanteuse Debbie Harry.

Launch of the Amiga 1000 in 1985 at New York’s Lincoln Centre with Andy Warhol and Debbie Harry.

In 2013, artist Cory Arcangel, working in collaboration with the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) Computer Club and the Andy Warhol Museum, helped to re-discover many of Warhol’s digital works which had until then languished in obscurity due to the obsolescence of the Amiga.

Andy Warhol’s Andy 2 (1985).

The Virginity Complex: Emulating Authenticity

As software and hardware have evolved into new forms, original versions have been rendered obsolete and are increasingly difficult to access. “Emulators” are software or hardware that allow users to execute programs and digital environments on platforms for which they were not originally designed. In recent years, it has been possible to simulate other operating systems on a personal computer using an emulator as a secondary platform. For instance, consider Parallels Desktop for Mac, a program that allows contemporary Mac computers to run Windows, or Amiga Foreveran emulator program that simulates the Commodore Amiga on a variety of contemporary platforms.23

There is one important observable difference between the original and its emulation, namely, the hardware through which we interact with the software. Interacting with software on different platforms produces different phenomenological experiences, perhaps suggesting that only the original platform can produce an “authentic” experience. Beyond such distinctions, an emulator gives new life to an obsolete platform, allowing users to experience an outdated system without having to rely on volatile, hard-to-service, decades-old hardware. Running software on any platform using an emulator ideally will approximate the original experience and extend the experience beyond its initial context. At the very least, a decent emulator is functionally equivalent to the original platform. In fact, most GUI developers understand that platforms have a particular “feel” or “style” and attempt to replicate it when designing emulators. 

In the present context, the Western Front’s exhibition of works produced by artists using a Commodore Amiga, the distinction between the original and its emulation is teased out given that all of the works in the exhibition are produced by using hybrid techniques that allow for new tools and technologies to be used in conjunction with an old platform. For instance, Mark Pellegrino’s G.I.R.L. (2012) was made by combining modern computer software with the medium-specific “limitations” of the Amiga, utilizing innovative techniques that drastically simplify the animation process. Pellegrino first created many of the layers used in his animation in Photoshop, then transcoded them into images the Amiga could use (obtaining the Amiga “look”), while most of the animation was done using a screen capture program and exploiting the fact that, in Deluxe Paint, the “brush” could be transformed into an image.24 

Excerpt from Mark Pellegrino’s G.I.R.L. (2012).

Marissa Olsen’s gold-painted Commodore Amiga, made as part of her Time Capsule series, complicates ideas around emulation by symbolizing the Amiga’s value (i.e., by painting it gold) while, at the same time, rendering the device unusable. The gold paint, like a bronze cast of a baby’s shoe, transforms the Amiga from functional device into a preserved relic designating a significant milestone. Given the Amiga’s rarity, removing one from circulation as Olsen has done further contributes to the device’s perceived obsolescence, suggesting that the only way to make use of the device from now on might be through emulation.25 Moreover, the playful nature of the work and its “garbage pile” presentation allows the work to disavow any accusations of technological fetishization. 

Dead Media: Emulating Nostalgia 

Artists using obsolete equipment and emulators often obtain a “look” or “style” specific to that platform. Emulators allow artists to engage with the specific aesthetics of software from a previous era without obtaining vintage equipment. Moreover, using a specific platform imposes medium-specific limitations that ultimately impact the artworks produced. Artist and Amiga enthusiast Daniel Barrow explains: “I still think [the Commodore Amiga is] one of the most fun platforms, but I’ve always preferred to work within a set of prescribed limitations”; he continues, “There are still many things I would do on Deluxe Paint IV that I can’t imagine how to do in Photoshop. . .”26 Recently, Barrow has been experimenting with Amiga emulation in such projects as The Mystery of the Haunted Mansion (A Plea) (2016), a live computer animation and performance that uses Amiga Forever run on a modern Mac. In the work, Barrow does not attempt to hide the emulated Amiga GUI interface, loading files in plain sight throughout the performance. Like many of Barrow’s works, the piece invokes a strong sense of nostalgia by employing his signature storytelling style, a unique blend of sentimentality, whimsy and irony.

In her book The Glitch Moment(um), Rosa Menkman suggests a close link between built-in obsolescence and nostalgia. She argues,

While the obsolescence and nostalgic revival of imperfect media used to be closely connected to the factor of (linear) time, this factor is now more disorganized, transforming the uncanny anachronism or avant-garde tendencies of post-procedural glitch into a fetish: something that is (‘now’) understood as a sign of (any ‘cool’) time. The apparent coming together of the hype cycle (the arrival, adoption and social distribution of specific technologies) with new technologies’ designed-for obsolescence, results in glitch itself being increasingly understood as retro-nostalgic artifacts.27

To Menkman, what was once a medium-specific error has now transformed into a fetish with each new technology generating its own nostalgia-inducing artifacts. In essence, we are not only being sold new technologies with a limited lifespan, but also apps that replicate the “look” of obsolete technologies from the past. Built-in obsolescence guarantees that these artifacts come with their own time-stamps, encouraging future nostalgia. Barrows confirms the nostalgic nature of his images: 

I am a nostalgic person, and I am drawn to nostalgic images, and my imagination stems from childhood, certainly. But I’m less interested in the nostalgic qualities that they have, and more interested in simple technologies.28 Barrow here reinforces the appeal of user-friendly technology that allows the artist to easily realize their visions, despite his desire to capture the Amiga’s “antiquated look.”29

By stating that he is not using the Amiga for its “nostalgic qualities,” Barrows is, in essence, denying a form of nostalgic technological fetishization, namely, the position that older technologies are better. His use of emulators further challenges technological fetishization by focusing on the original device’s functional value instead of on the device itself. On the opposite end of the spectrum, an argument could be made that using obsolete equipment to champion retro-aesthetics challenges both planned obsolescence and the consumer myth that newer technologies are better. Moreover, the forms of nostalgia generated by retro-aesthetics might provide us an opportunity to re-engage with that era through a contemporary lens, offering insights and critical reflections. In particular, it is easy to sympathize with the forms of nostalgia generated by early computer aesthetics given the radical potential that early home computing seemingly offered. The graphical qualities of these early computers, reflected in their GUIs, demonstrate technological limitations yet, seen in a different light, also serve as a tribute to unrestrained technological innovation and ingenuity.

  1. Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Programmed Visions: Software and Memory (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2011), 60. []
  2. Animation scholar Tom Sito outlines a history of computer graphics and GUIs in his comprehensive history of computer, Moving Innovation: A History of Computer Animation (Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 2013). []
  3. Sito, Moving Innovation, 39. []
  4. Project Whirlwind was shut down by the U.S. Defence Department on June 12, 1959. []
  5. Sito, Moving Innovation, 40. []
  6. Gwynne Watkins, “A Psychiatrist Analyzes Mad Men’s Michael Ginsberg,” Vulture (May 13, 2014). []
  7. Chun, Programmed Visions, 60. []
  8. Description from Sutherland’s 1988 Turing Award nomination. See Margaret A. Boden, Mind as Machine: A History of Cognitive Science, vol. 2 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2006), 1075. []
  9. Sito, Moving Innovation, 42. []
  10. Ken Knowlton, “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Scientist.” Digital Art Guild (2004). []
  11. Although it is possible to view the oscilloscope as an early GUI, there are many examples of mechanical GUIs. For instance, consider theArithmométre, a mass-produced mechanical calculator based on Leibniz’s work patented by Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar and manufactured from 1851 until 1915. []
  12. The Mother of All Demos” was presented under the official title “A research centre for augmenting human intellect.” In recent years, computer demos have been defined as programs “whose purpose is to present the technical and artistic skills of its makers and produce audiovisual pleasure to the viewer.” Demos also “usually include various kinds of real-time computer produced graphics effects.” The demo-scene distinguishes between computer demos and demonstrations of commercial products. Given this distinction, Engelbart’s presentation can be seen as an early demo despite the fact that many of his innovations became incorporated in commercial products. See Petri Kuittinen, “Computer Demos – The Story So Far,” (2001). []
  13. It is also worth noting that Stewart Brand helped to design the demo’s presentation. Brand is a counter-culture legend who edited the Whole Earth Catalog, an early example of desktop publishing put out between 1969 and 1972, which promoted both hippie ideologies and the idea that computers were for everyone. The Whole Earth Catalog was extremely influential among early computer programmers. As observed by Sito, “dog-eared copies of the Whole Earth Catalog sat on workstation shelves from Hewlett-Packard (HP) to Xerox PARC.” See Sito, Moving Innovation, 93. []
  14. The Digital Revolution refers to the monumental changes brought about by digital computing and communication technology. []
  15. Sito, Moving Innovation, 54. []
  16. Ibid., 88. []
  17. Most of the Altos sold were to larger universities; however, Jimmy Carter also had one installed in the White House. See Sito, Moving Innovation, 87 and 300. []
  18. Roberto Dillon, Ready: A Commodore 64 Retrospective (Singapore: Springer, 2015), 5. []
  19. Ibid., 9 and 105. []
  20. Steve Wozniak quoted in David A. Price, The Pixar Touch: The Making of a Company (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008), 83. []
  21. Dillon, Ready, 5.  []
  22. Ibid., 19. []
  23. The Church-Turing thesis implies that it is theoretically possible to emulate any operating environment within any other environment given enough memory. In a 1988 letter to Compute!, Mike Warick asked, “Can a Commodore 64 emulate MS-DOS?” Compute! responded, “Yes, it’s possible for a Commodore 64 to emulate an IBM PC, in the same way it is possible to bail out Lake Michigan with a teaspoon.” They continued, “emulation is a complex business, but here’s one rule of thumb: the only way to successfully emulate a machine is with a much more powerful machine.” At this point in time, given the power of modern processors, it is possible to obtain an emulator for most of the popular platforms; however, emulators are usually not as stable as the original and the emulator usually does not emulate the idiosyncratic behaviour of the original hardware configuration. See Mike Warick, letter to the editor, “MS-DOS Emulation For The 64,” Compute! (April 1988), 43. []
  24. Artist Q&A at the World of Commodore 2012 put on by the Toronto PET Users Group. []
  25. It is worth noting that many Commodore users still exist. For instance, consider the Toronto PET Users Group which was established in 1979 making it one of the oldest users groups. The group supports nearly all Commodore computers, including the PET, VIC-20, C64, C128, Plus/4, C16, C65, and Amiga, including the COMAL, CP/M and GEOS environments. []
  26. Daniel Barrow quoted in Andrew James Paterson, “Hello Amiga, Goodbye and then Hello Again,” Hello Amiga Exhibition Essay (2012). []
  27. Rosa Menkman, The Glitch Moment(um) (Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures, 2011), 57. []
  28. Daniel Barrow quoted in Sky Goodden, “Daniel Barrow on the Glenfiddich Prize, Nostalgia, and Working Three Years Late,” Blouin Artinfo (March 21, 2013). []
  29. Daniel Barrow quoted in Sky Goodden, “Daniel Barrow on the Glenfiddich Prize, Nostalgia, and Working Three Years Late,” Blouin Artinfo  (March 21, 2013). []