1990: Programming languages

In 1990, I drew thirteen cartoons for the computing industry press. They were never published, so here they are from the Beholder archive. They have no particular artistic merit, but they’re mildly interesting from a nostalgically geeky point of view.

13. Machine code

This illustration was repurposed at the time as the T-shirt for the Computer Science Department of Royal Holloway (then RHBNC). This broadly unoriginal steampunky interpretation of computers has subsequently been executed much better by more skilful artists, and most recently by Sydney Padua in her fabulous book The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace & Babbage, which I strongly recommend you buy if you’re nerdy enough to be reading this page in the first place. I suspect my explanation as to why computers use binary (easier to wire) is at least as credible to members of the non-digital public as any other they may have heard, so it was a good one to end the series with.

I named these verbose cartoons “the Need To Know Guide to Programming Languages”. Note that this was nothing to do with Danny O’Brien & Dave Green’s Need to Know (NTK) newsletter, which did not come along for another seven years (and to which I enthusiastically subscribed).

You’re free to use the illustration for anything provided you attribute Beholder as the source (a CC BY 4.0 license).

See more vintage Beholder nostalgia.