Archive for the ‘History of Visual Communications’ Category


Movie Review of “Pirates of Silicon Valley”

15 April, 2011

The movie, based on achievements and the success of Apple, Inc. and Microsoft, was well developed. Even without knowledge of either company or computers, one can watch this movie and understand the troubles and success of both businesses. The movie is narrated by Steve Wozniak (Joey Slotnick) and Bill Gates (Anthony Hall). This docudrama plays through the founding of both corporations, the feuds between Bill Gates and Apple, Inc.’s CEO and Chairman, Steve Jobs. It shows their personal lives, and what it was like working under Apple. The film shows how each company “stole” from each other knowledge, bits and pieces, and formats of the modern day computer. Bill Gates was not-so-welcome in the Apple community, and was highly trusted by Steve Jobs, only to deceive him and release WINDOWS software. The development of IBM-PC is shown post IBM and how it was believed to be the “enemy” of Apple, Inc. (Then Apple Computer, Inc.). The true enemy was really Bill Gates and the Microsoft Company. A brief epilogue at the near end of the movie tells the viewers what has happened in the years since: like how Bill Gates is one of the richest people on the planet.

My Rating: **** (4 stars)

This movie was released in 1999, so the graphics to us now are quite ‘cheesy’. These ‘cheesy’ graphics make the movie more enjoyable. The entire plot of the movie (feuds and stealing between Apple and Microsoft) is notably entertaining and helps one better understand the backbones and backgrounds of both companies and how they came to be. I thought it was a good docudrama especially for this class. It was not boring, but full of twists and turns; outcomes not expected by the viewers. Highly recommended if one, or a class, want to learn about computers and their history.


History of Photography | 4th Century AD – Present

31 March, 2011

The Daguerreotype photographic process was invented by Frenchman Louis Daguerre. Daguerre exposed a light-sensitive metal sheet which created a direct positive image. Exposure time took up to half an hour. It was a faster development than the process developed by Joseph Niepce. It was a disadvantage because it was expensive, slightly time consuming, and was portable, but one must carry the immersing salt. It also could not be duplicated. *Example of a photograph taken by this camera:

The Calotype Process was invented by William Fox Talbot. The subject would have been exposed onto light-sensitve paper, producing paper negatively. More effective, and duplicates could be made from the negatives. Unlimited duplicates could be made. The image quality was still not of great quality. *Example of a photograph taken by this camera:


Charles Archer invented the Wet Collodion Process (also known as the Wet Plate Process). Exposure time reduced to 2 or 3 seconds. Cost was significantly less than the Calotype Process. Plates exposed and developed immediately while the plates were still wet. The image was better quality than the previous processes, but were still produced on breakable glass. *Example of a photograph taken by this camera:


The Dry Plate Process was invented by an English physicist, Richard Maddox. His process of using gelatin instead of glass for a photographic plate is still the base of film today. It was easier to carry around, a cheaper process than it’s predecessors.

The first photograph of a human was taken by Robert Cornelious of himself (self-portrait) in either October or November of 1839. *The very first human photographed:

What is photo emulsion? Photo emulsion is a light-sensitive colloid (like gelatin) coated onto a substrate (coating; a covering that is applied to the surface of an object, usually referred to as a substrate).


Why did Eastman name his company Kodak? Eastman had said that the letter “K” was “a strong and incisive letter”. He wanted people to be able to pronounce it correctly, not mispronounce it. “it should be short, one cannot mispronounce it, and it could not resemble anything or be associated with anything but Kodak!” –Eastman.


Polaroid instant photography is a unique and interesting process. Invented by the Edwin Land (Polaroid Corporation), the camera self-generates instant film from the camera.  The first rolled film for the camera required photographers to read the light-level and set the exposure settings on the camera before taking the picture. The photographer focused on its subject(s) and took the picture. They would then pull a large tab to move the negative over the positive. The photographer would then wait until the picture developed from within the camera. Once developed, they would open a small ‘door’ in the back of the camera and peel off the positive to separate it from the negative. For the old Polaroids, the black and white positive had to be coated in a fixing agent in order to prevent fading. This later led to the creation of colourless development film. *Image of an old Polaroid camera:



The Linotype Machine | 1886

30 March, 2011

Example of Sholes’ typewriter:

Example of Mergenthaler’s Linotype Machine:

Example of an operator using the Linotype Machine:


1.  Why was the typewriter an important part of our history?

The typewriter changed the way everything was printed. Newspapers became longer with more articles and images, operators were able to quickly type down their recordings/findings. It was a faster way to type and it was more movable and durable than a Gutenberg printing press. It was the first time in 400 years someone had modified printing of any kind and made it worth the while.

2. What is typesetting?

Typesetting is the composition of text material by means of types/sorts.

3. Why was the Linotype the greatest advance in printing since movable type?

The casting of the types were done in metal matrices as opposed to paper-mache. It can produce an entire line of type at once. It can be set mechanically rather than being set by hand. Plus, the entire typewriter could be transported anywhere.

4. How does the Linotype keyboard differ from the keyboard we use today?

The Linotype keyboard has 90 keys. It is set into three coloured-catagories: black, white, and blue. The black type (left side of the keyboard) are for lowercase letters. The white type (right side of the keyboard) is reserved for uppercase letters. The blue type (middle portion of the keyboard) is set for any punctuation, small capital letters, digits, and is fixed with spaces.


The Gutenberg Press | 1440-Present

24 March, 2011

1.  Briefly explain how the Gutenberg Press worked. Which printing process is this an example of? Post a photo of the Gutenberg Press.

The press used metal typography. Pages were placed in an arrangement for a form, or frame. The paper is then inked and pressed between a frisket and a tympan, which is folded down. The bed is rolled under the platen and the impression is created by a screw which sends pressure to the ink. The screws are then reversed and the bed is flipped to its original position. Finally the sheets are removed. Some of the presses can be operated by steam power.



2. What is movable type? Post an photo of movable type within a type case.

Movable type is the system of printing using movable components to reproduce the elements of a document.



3. Briefly describe the process of porous printing.

Porous printing is the style of stencil and screen printing. Using a stencil image, ink is poured or squeezed on a nice, fine screen onto the object used for printing (i.e. paper, glass, textiles, or metals). The screen holds the pictograph or typographic material. This process uses such a heavy load of ink, bright and neon colours can be used. This can be used for making posters, detailed-fine art, and signs.

4. Briefly describe the process of intaglio printing.

An images is incised on a matrix or plate. The incisions are made by etching, dry-point, engraving, mezzotint, or aqua tint. On the surface, ink is added and then rubbed with a tarlatan cloth to remove any excess ink. A final rubdown is done with old newspaper, only leaving ink in the incisions. Damp paper is placed on top which runs together with the plate through the printing press. They are pressed together tightly to ensure the plate’s ink rubs off and imprints onto the paper.

5. Briefly describe the process of lithography.

Printing on stone or metal plates. Low-cost printing, not as expensive as other forms of printing. Created circa 1796. During the printing process, the stones or metal plates are kept wet with water. Solution and gum arabic are applied beforehand. The printing inks are based on drying oils and varnishes coated with pigments which is then rolled or flipped over so that the surface is facing upward. Special paper is put atop the stone/metal plate which is then run through the press. The paper is ripped or slipped off and the stone is left with engravings.

6. What is offset lithography?

Most commonly used printing technique. The ink is moved to a rubber blanket and then to a printing surface. There are two versions of this process: The first, formed in England ~1875 on tin, and then again in the United States ~1903 on paper.

7. How do printing presses that are utilized today compare to the Gutenberg Press? Post a photo example of an offset lithography press.

The modern press still utilizes relief printing, intaglio, porous and lithography printing. The Gutenberg  press used most of those effects, but was also made of wood, and then later on, cast iron.



8. What is CYMK? Describe four-color process printing.

CMYK stands for the colours cyan, yellow, magenta, and black (because ‘B’ is used for ‘blue’). Four-colour process is an essential printing process where you take the final artwork and break it down into CMYK format. Working with high-resolution images when printing, looks better in CMYK than RGB (red, blue, green) because the image quality is more profound and the colours are more closely matched. CMYK is used when printing because RGB does not looks as great on paper, because of it’s ever-lacking presence of the colour white. The process is more detailed, effective and precise. Instead of re-shooting an image that was printed in RGB, the user can edit with CMYK to the colours of choice because there is a presence of the colour black.


The Codex & The Illuminated Manuscript | 300 AD – ~1450 AD

17 March, 2011


Example of a scroll:

Example of a Codex:

Example of an Illuminated Manuscript:


1.  Codex is derived from Latin meaning “block of wood”. Why? What did the codex evolve from?

The codex is made using papyrus, which is thicker than scroll paper, almost like a block of wood. The codex evolved from scrolls; they were easier to transport, more compact and steadier than scrolls were.

2.  What is the difference between “random access” and “sequential access”?

“Random access” refers to the Codex, where one can find anything, despite the order of the text. “Sequential access” refers to scrolls. In scrolls, to find anything one must completely unroll the scroll and read in sequential order (sequence) in order to find what they are looking for.

3.  What is the difference between the codex and the illuminated manuscript?

A Codex does not have many illustrations, it usually contains only the written word. Illuminated manuscripts on the other hand, are colourful, artistic pages written in detail with embroidery (usually), and colourful images. Codex manuscript, for the most part, replaced illuminated texts because the work for the ornamental pages was so tedious.

4.  What is craftsmanship? Why is it important?

A craftsman is one of great skill and high quality artwork. Whether it be in architecture or art, the work ethic is unique, strong, and of stupendous quality. It is important because the best works took time (Look at Rembrandt and Renoir). Craftsmanship is precise and on-time, never missing a beat. Also, without skilled craftsmen, many artistic features, buildings, etc. would not be available nor here, today.

5.  Why did the format of the codex/book gain so much popularity that we still use it today?

The codex/book is still popular today because it makes for simple storage and does not have as much upkeep as scrolls or illuminated manuscripts. They are not as time-consuming, nor as labourious.

6.  Name several examples of current technology that utilizes the format of the codex.

All modern books take on the form of Codex. Examples include The Bible and encyclopedias.


Secrets of the Rosetta Stone

10 March, 2011

Part One Title your entry with the title of the video, Secrets of the Rosetta Stone.

Part Two Rate the video with 1 to 5 stars, 5 being the best.

Part Three Within your blog entry, review the video. Write a summary of what the video covered as if you are a journalist. Your entry should include 1 to 2 well-written paragraphs. Images are optional.



****~Film rating: 4 Stars (Quite informative, but slight monotonous narration).~ ****


Located at the entrance to the Egyptian Department in the British Museum of Natural History, lies the Rosetta stone. Buried in the sands of time, this incredibly important missing link was found by soldiers under the instruction of the great Napoleon. The expedition to seek Egyptian objects “gave birth to archaeology” and created what is known today as “Egyptology”. The finding of the Rosetta stone set off an international race to decipher its Hieroglyphics and Coptic writing from the Greek below them. When the Rosetta stone was first uncovered, archaeologists were hoping it was a key to the afterlife, or how the Egyptians came to be; instead it was giving praise to former leader, Ptolemy. At 3 feet, 9 inches tall, and 2 feet, 4 inches wide, this small stone sparked fascination into the eyes of the British public.

Matching “Ptolemy” and “Him” in Greek, appearing several times, Egyptologists were able to find reoccurring images in Coptic and hieroglyphics. With this, Egyptologists were able to decode the Rosetta stone, taking each image and systematically deciphering it. Archaeologists flocked to Egypt; started reading temples, cartouches and pyramids, attempting to unlock the ancient mysteries of one of the greatest civilizations to ever develop. Even non-Egyptian names were sounded out phonetically and spelled in hieroglyphs. This film thoroughly explained the history of hieroglyphics and Coptic. The video was a great visual tool to learn about Egyptian hieroglyphs. If one wants to learn about them, definitely check out this video by the History Channel!



Creation of the Phonetic Alphabet | Began Around 1050 BC

2 March, 2011

Example of the Phoenician Alphabet:

Example of the Greek Alphabet:

Example of the Roman Alphabet:















1.Why was the Phoenician alphabet successful?

The success of the Phoenician alphabet is based on the fact that the trading culture of the Phoenicians was spread to parts of Europe and Northern Africa.

2. What is a “social structure” of a civilization?

The “social structure” of a civilization are also known as “classes” of a civilization. They distinguish the High Class (Royalty, wealthy merchants, land owners, government officials/employees, Army personnel/chiefs), Aristocracy), the Middle Class (Small merchants, skilled craftsmen, teachers, labourers, etc.), and the Lower Class (Workers, farmers, foreigners, immigrants, and slaves).

3. Why is the Roman alphabet the most widely used and what contributions did it make?

The Roman alphabet’s contributions included the uses of typography (i.e.: serifs, baseline, descenders). Also, it is most widely used because it was spread to most of Europe back when Rome ruled most of the land in what is known as Europe today. The Germans, Baltics, and Celtics, and Slavs used the Latin alphabet as a base for their own alphabet. The Romans influenced not only culture, but language as well. From there, the language was spread overseas when the Christians were trying to conquer Australia, and parts of Africa and the Americas.

4. Compare and contrast the three alphabets.

The Phonetic alphabet, which the Greek and Roman alphabets are practically based on, used some forms of distinct letters we know very well today. Shapes and lines were used, it did not look as primitive, and was more widespread than hieroglyphics and symbols. The Greek alphabet is the “truly original alphabet” because it is the “true base” of ALL alphabets, including the Latin (Roman) alphabet. The Roman alphabet is the most widely spread alphabet, exceeding both the Phonetic and Grecian alphabets. Although the Grecian alphabet is still used today, most countries use the Latin alphabet. Phonetics still come from the Phoenicians.

5. When and where did lowercase, or minuscule. letters develop?

Lower cased letters developed during the Middle Ages when cursive writing was first used. Prior to, only writing was done in uppercase print.