Ryan Mungia and Steven Heller’s new book examining classics of advertising across the modern computer age is a satisfying, hefty tome with more than 350 full-color photographs and illustrations — and it weighs about four times as much as your laptop. More than a history of the computing industry itself, Do You Compute? Selling Tech from the Atomic Age to the Y2K Bug 1950–1999 traces the evolution of the commercial and cultural marketing that accompanied the emerging digital world.
From the early days of warehouse-size mainframes to whatever pocket-size device you’re reading this on, the physical scale and exponential data powers are remarkable to contemplate, but being able to unpack the energy of the societal shift from lofty rocket science, to fantastical sci-fi movies, to the indispensable extension of the personal self is a tech nerd’s treat. And because of his background in design and cultural anthropology, author Ryan Mungia’s perspective on this phenomenon runs through an appreciation of the sector’s graphic identity and public messaging.
Across selections from museum, university and private collections and accompanied by five different timelines offering unique access points into the story that defines our time, the book’s co-author Steven Heller, a graphic design historian, grounds the volume in a healthy respect for the power of design to literally shape cultural trends and formulate the future of society even as it reflects its present.
Hat & Beard, Co-published with Boyo Press. Written by Ryan Mungia and Steven Heller; Edited by Ryan Mungia and J.C. Gabel; Designed by Ryan Mungia; Cover design by John Zabawa. Hardcover, 240 pages, 8 x 10 in., $50. doyoucomputebook.com.