Artifacts of Graphic Design Timeline

Artifacts of Graphic Design Timeline

Looking at how graphic design has changed through the years and in response to the addition of new technologies.

The 1960s

1960s: The Start of the End of Analog Tools

The 1960s was the beginning of the end of only using analog tools as part of the design process. Starting in the late 60s, phototypesetting machines were introduced, which used projection of glass discs on light sensitive paper to create type. In the mid 60s, Ivan Sutherland invented the first digital drawing surface called Sketchpad, which was a large push for design as it was the first graphical user interface.

Using hot metal to set type prior to new technologies

A phototypesetting machine

Ivan Sutherland's Sketchpad Program

The 1970s

1970s: Beginning to Explore the Digital World

With the digital door now open, the 1970s gave rise to some iconic designs that played with color and type in ways that could not be done before. The 1970s was a period that saw the creation of many logos that are still in use today. The first apple computer was also built in the 1970s, which would lead to personal computers becoming an affordable and sought after technology.

Milton Glaser’s iconic tourism-campaign symbol

One of many protest posters from the 70s

Kodak's logo created in the 1970s

The 1980s

1980s: The Dawn of the Computer Age

Though computers were still considered very new in the 1980s, more and more people began to buy them, increasing their popularity as a commercial product. The 1980s introduced several types of software that allowed designers to play and explore in ways they couldn’t before, including layering, 3D graphics, and printing from home.

The Macintosh 512K, a personal computer that was sold in 1984

One of April Greiman's pieces from the 80s

Time magazine from 1983 calling the Computer the "Machine of the Year"

The 1990s

1990s: The Surge of Digital Creation

With the final years of the century came great technological booms, including the release of Adobe Photoshop to the masses. With these tools quicking the design process, the 90s saw a surge in the breadth and amount of design created, including album covers, magazines, and other mediums. However, designers also explored the mix between digital and analog methods, using a lot of handwriting and more grunge-style treatments.

Adobe Photoshop's interface in the 90s

Cover of Everything is Illuminated by Jon Gray

One of the covers from David Carson's magazine Raygun

The 2000s

2000s: Design for Sharing — The Internet Age

The 2000s mark the age where design became a shared activity due to the evolution of the world wide web. With email and websites galore, people could search anything they wanted, create material, and share it with the world. Known for lots of color, glam, and disorganization, the age of 2000s design is still heavily referenced and enjoyed today.

The iMac G3 available in many colors

Stefan Sagmeister's piece Chaumont from 2004

Early website designed for the band "Planet of the Drums"

Current Times

2010+: Everyone's a Designer

Today, there are countless technologies that designers can use, including iPads, tablets, printers, and more. However, there have been recent trends to mix these new technologies with the founding principles of design, creating fun and interesting mixed media art. With so many advances, many more people are classifying themselves as designers, and the profession as a whole has boomed.

The iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

A digital piece on Instagram by kreationsministern

Google's Material Design is a great resource for UX