The history of digital design

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The history of digital design

The History of Digital Design stretches back further than you may think. From prehistoric times to the present day, digital design has remained a popular art form used for expression, branding and consumerism.

History of digital design - it starts with cave art

Cave art refers to the paintings and engravings found within caves from as far back as the ice age. Found primarily in France and Spain, alongside other European cities, cave art has given us an indication of what life was like for those who lived up to 40,000 years ago. (source)

What’s really interesting about cave art is that very little of it depicts humans, but instead almost all represent animals or geometric signs. Although they were not digital by design, these cave paintings were one of the first representations of artwork being displayed for others – a similarity still shared with the practice of digital design today.

The Egyptians and hieroglyphs

The ancient Egyptians were known to have invented one of the earliest known writing systems in a form of symbols known as hieroglyphs; taken from the Greek word meaning ‘sacred carving’. At the time, these were believed to be an invention from the gods due to their stunning beauty, and as a result had an incredible 700 featured within their alphabet!

Hieroglyphs Hieroglyphs

In many ways, this is not too dissimilar to the practices of digital design of today; symbols are commonplace, especially in projects which include infographics, typography or animated videos, and are an art form, as they were as far back as 3000 BC, focused on beauty and simplicity to convey a message. For us, the most successful projects we see are those that fulfil a purpose, of course, but also create wonder, delight and sensory stimulation for everyone that encounters them.

Industrialisation and printing

The invention of the printing press in the 1400s gave people the opportunity to recreate symbols, text and images and distribute them more widely to the public. This was the birth of design and print for the purpose of commerce. Designers also began creating company logos and branding, something we take for granted when considering digital design today.

But it was in the 1600s that we started to see advertisements appearing in local press, and as the concept of publishing information ‘in the public interest’ grew, advertising really took off, accelerating at great speed over the coming centuries to its heyday in the 1900s. Many of the world war prints are likely some of the most recognisable in the Western world.

Poster-art Poster-art

19th century digital design

With the advent of computers in the 1930s and the internet more recently in 1983, digital design took on a whole new meaning. Symbols and graphics could now be manipulated and brought to life using computer generated imagery (CGI). Logos could be developed digitally and clever sketching tools like Adobe Photoshop (and of course good ‘ol Microsoft Paint!) became commonplace.

These days, digital design offers a plethora of intuitive tools aimed at creating memorable imagery, graphics and content. At Digital Detox, we make use of some really cool and useful out-of-the-box digital design tools like Invision and Axure. With our own design team in-house, we have the flexibility and creativity to create bespoke experiences, designs, graphics, logos, images, prototypes and artwork for clients.

From the early paintings of Cave People to the groundbreaking inventions of Johannes Gutenberg and Tim Berners-Lee, we owe a lot to the evolution of digital design throughout the ages and to those who have pioneered huge advancements over the years.

From the history of digital design to the future

At Digital Detox, we specialise in digital design, agile development and digital transformation for a wide range of clients across multiple industries. With an extensive portfolio and a hugely talented team, we’d love to take your vision and transform it into something that makes history!

If you’ve got an idea, challenge or opportunity to discuss, do get in touch.