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Arcana: Books on the Arts
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“Do You Compute?” Talk by author Ryan Mungia


It’s almost impossible to imagine, but there was a time – no too long ago – when computers meant very little to the general public. Magazine ads and marketing brochures for the unwieldy machines first targeted aerospace and engineering companies, but after the invention of the microchip in the 1970s which led to personal computers and video games, flashy marketing campaigns targeting individual consumers took off. By the end of the millennium, the notion of selling tech burst wide open to include robots, cell phones, blogs, online dating services, and much, much, much more.

In his book, Do You Compute? , Cultural Anthropologist Ryan Mungia presents a broad survey featuring the very best of computer advertising in the 20th century. From the Atomic Age to the Y2K bug, Do You Compute presents a curated selection of graphic gems culled from museums, university archives, and private collections to illustrate the evolution of the computer from its early days as a hulking piece of machinery to its current state as a handheld device. Accompanied by two essays – one by Mungia and the other by graphic design historian Steven Heller – and including five different decade-long timelines that highlight some of the most influential moments in computer history, the book offers a fun yet meaningful look at the computer and how it has shaped our world. Mungia told DnA that he came up with the idea to create a visual book to offer a more cultural and creative perspective on the subject matter – usually discussed in bits and bytes.  You can read more about the event and pre-order a copy of the book here.