docubyte and INK document the never-before-seen history of computer hardware
docubyte and INK document the never-before-seen history of computer hardware
may 18, 2016

docubyte and INK document the never-before-seen history of computer hardware

docubyte and ink document the never-before-seen history of computer hardware
(above) the harwell dekatron — an early british relay-based computer created in the 1950s
all images by docubyte / INK




before the emergence of apple’s imac, it is assumed that the aesthetic design of computers was of minimal consideration. through ‘guide to computing’, london-based production studio INK and photographer docubyte prove this theory otherwise by documenting some of the earliest examples of hardware in its purest form. born from a mutual affection for the historical analogue aesthetic, the photographic series sees ten historic computers digitally restored to never-before-seen condition — including famous machines like the IBM 1401 and alan turing’s pilot ACE.

the endim 2000 — a tube­based design developed and manufactured in the former german democratic republic




docubyte’s photographs of these aging objects have been digitally restored and returned to their original form by studio ink. since many of the machines predate modern color photography, ‘guide to computing’ showcases them in a never-before-seen context. these massive mainframes were intended to be stood at, walked around, and sat at. the ever-evolving miniaturization of computers has rendered these objects charmingly naive and — from a modern day perspective — essentially obsolete. set on a palette of colorful backdrops, the devices that make up the photo essay exhibit complex physical characteristics of a bygone time — a labyrinth of wires and an abundance of buttons epitomize both their beauty and fascinating mechanical attributes.

EAI pace (TR 48) — a ‘desktop computer’ manufactured in the early 1960s measuring four feet wide




‘in seeking to explore and photograph the design of these fascinating machines, it seemed inexcusable to simply visually record the piece through the lens alone,’ describes photographer james ball (aka docubyte). ‘with skillful retouching and digital post production techniques, these ageing, clunky and quite battered historical objects could be restored to their commercial best. here they are documented as they were originally intended; in a style inspired by the original marketing imagery of retro­chic rooms full of 60s mainframes.’

HDR 75 — a small analog hybrid computer developed in the former DDR at the technical university of dresden

ICL 7500 — one of a range of terminals and workstations that were developed during the 1970s

meda 42TA — one of the last analogue hybrid computers to be built in the former czechoslovakia in the early 1970s

pilot ACE — one of the first computers designed by alan turing and built in the UK in the early 1950s

IMB 729 magnetic tape unit — a mass storage system from the late 1950s through the mid­-1960s

IBM 1401 — a variable word length decimal computer first produced in 1959

control data 6600 — generally considered to be the first successful supercomputer

  • As honest but potent as the products they pay homage to, these make a fitting and clearly loving tribute to some beautiful and almost forgotten bits of kit. Interesting that my desktop brick appears primitive in comparison.

    nowzoomin says:

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