First electronic Pin-Up, 1956

Der Atlantic hat die wahrscheinlich erste Computer-Grafik entdeckt: Ein Pinup als Vektorgrafik, Teil eines Diagnoseprogramms auf alten Rechnern der Air Force.

When loaded, the pin-up image would be visible in flashing pulses that synchronized system-wide with the incoming flow of real-time radar data. A long exposure on Tipton’s Polaroid camera would have assured the steady image of the pin-up you see here. (The pin-up lady has a spot on her thigh because that is the center of the circular display, which is where the electron gun in the CRT naturally aims when it is idle.)

When contacted, dozens of SAGE veterans who worked in the program between 1958 and 1983 (the approximate lifetime of SAGE) recalled witnessing this pin-up program firsthand. Not surprisingly, the pin-up’s role changed over the decades as the technological culture shifted around it. While Tipton insists the pin-up had a diagnostic purpose, SAGE operators in later decades remember it as a lighthearted way to pass the dull hours of the late shift when traffic was slow or the standby machine was not in service (“At no time was the primary mission of air defense compromised to my knowledge,” wrote one veteran in an email to the author.)

The Never-Before-Told Story of the World’s First Computer Art (It’s a Sexy Dame) (via Waxy)