1. Directory
  2. ASCII Artwork
  3. texthistory.txt

=Text pictures are created by hand.

=Concrete poetry is created with aide of typesetting and the
      early typewriter  (also called "typography").

=Typewriter art is first documented in 1898; becomes an art form. 

=Radio teletype (RTTY) art is created using the Baudot 5-bit code.

=Paper-tape art and punch card art are created as early forms of
     'computer' art. 

=The ASCII code is created in the early 1960s and is
     standardized in 1968. 

=Early ASCII art - the first years of the Internet, BBS, and underground
     ASCII /ANSI art "groups". 

=Cousins of ASCII art-- 
     ANSI art,  America Online's 'MACRO art', and mIRC pop-ups

=ASCII art today and in the future...



      ASCII art and other "keyboard" art uses basic text characters to
 create a picture.  Long ago, the written word did not consist of
 "text".  Ironically, the first written documents consisted of
 pictures which represented ideas and objects-- not letters or text characters. 

 An example of this are the hieroglyphics on tombs in the Valley of the
 Kings in Luxor, Egypt.

    Over time,  the written word developed into symbols which looked
 more like present-day text.  The very first  text art pictures were
 drawn by hand.  Creative people used ornamental penmanship to create
 wondrously beautiful documents and pictures. The monastic monks created
 breath-taking manuscripts which incorporated letters of text into their art. 
 However, there were few other pieces of art that were made from text characters. 
      Individuals continued creating text art images by hand.   During
 the Korean War (circa 1950), a very talented Korean named 'Gwang Hyuk Lee'
 made a  hand drawn text picture depicting Jesus.  He used the entire text
 in the Bible's "Book of John" to create this multi-colored image.  Rumor
 has it that he was killed by the North Korean communists for creating
 this 16" x 20" picture.  This work of art is beautiful and created entirely
 by hand!  It must've taken an incredibly long time to complete. 

         Gwang Hyuk Lee's hand drawn - "Book of John" -  black & white image 

         Gwank Hyuk Lee's hand drawn "Book of John" -  color image

 I don't have any further information about this example of hand drawn text art-- I've
 been told that a poster of this artwork used to be available but I don't know where it
 can be found. 

 Shaped texts became popular as part of the concrete and visual poetry movement. 
 French poet and surrealist, Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918), used the shaped text
 in his handwritten visual word poems.  These visual word poems were given the term
 "calligrams" (1917).  

 According to the Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry: 

      "The calligrams of Apollinaire represent an important and original
      landmark in the history of visual and shaped poetry. These calligraphic
      poems may be considered as one of the precursors of modern concrete



 People were relieved from writer's cramp once mechanical methods to create text
 were created.  The Chinese are generally recognized as the first group of people to
 develop the stamp/ink printing process (2nd Century AD) and the movable-type
 printing process (11th Century AD).  

 It wasn't until the year 1450 that Johannes Gutenberg (along with businessman,
 Johann Fust and calligrapher, Peter Schoeffer) invented the printing press in
 Germany. It was based on a wine-press design and could print about 300 pages a
 day.  As a result, books were produced more quickly and for lower cost.   The art of
 typography could begin! 

 A nice example of typography is from the 1865 book, Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis
 Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson).  The following tail of a mouse is from Chapter III,
 "A Caucus Race and a Long Tale": 
                        "It _is_ a long tail, certainly," said Alice, looking
                     down with wonder at the Mouse's tail; "but why do you
                     call it sad?" And she kept on puzzling about it while the
                     Mouse was speaking, so that her idea of the tale was
                     something like this:----"Fury said to
                               a mouse, That
                                     he met in the
                                          house, `Let
                                              us both go
                                                 to law: _I_
                                                  will prose-
                                                   cute _you_.--
                                                  Come, I'll
                                                 take no de-
                                              nial: We
                                           must have
                                        the trial;
                                     For really
                                   this morn-
                                 ing I've
                               to do.'
                                Said the
                                 mouse to
                                   the cur,
                                      `Such a
                                         trial, dear
                                             sir. With
                                               no jury
                                                or judge,
                                                 be wast-
                                               ing our
                                          `I'll be
                                    I'll be
                                    you to

 Alice in Wonderland was published a few years before the typewriter was invented. 
 Therefore, it can be considered as one of the first printed text art creations. 

 Concrete poetry and typography continues today as evidenced by this modern 1997
 example created by 'Donovan' (Xdonovan@misslink.net   ICQ#: 812836): 
                                                 The Dolphins' Way,
                               In Me          Aspirations of the living
                            sea The dolphins do move within    me The aura of
                              their soul, I feel deep down To be in the water
                                 and not on ground Sifting through the
                                   ocean, an expressing show Communi-
                                 cation of a song and a blow Pro-
                              tecting even those not of their
                           kind They ask nothing in return,
                      they do not mind The most gracious
                   and unselfish of all that wander I
               wish to swim with them, nothing   could
             be fonder The dolphins mean so     much
          to me, you see I need to thank      them,
         for showing us how to be                           (Donovan 1997)




    To many people, Christopher Latham Sholes is considered to be the
 inventor of the modern typewriter. His first machine was completed
 in September of 1867.   E. Remington & Sons manufactured the
 typewriter in 1874.  The keyboard has changed many times but the basic
 characters remains.  There is an extensive history to the evolution
 of the typewriter. Visit a very informative web site which identifies
 the history of the typewriter:

 Typewriter-Related Links -history, keyboard, fonts, and more 

      Since 1867, people have used the typewriter not only for printing
 manuscripts but creating works of art.   In the 1890s, typewriter
 manufacturers and secretarial agencies organized public speed typing
 competitions. They also organized competitions for typewriter drawings.
 The earliest preserved example of typewriter art was made in 1898 by a
 woman named Flora Stacey.  Not much is known about Flora Stacey except
 that she was probably a secretary.   Her framed picture of a butterfly was
 published in the October 15th, 1898, edition of Pitman's Phonetic Journal. 

 The entire rendering of this picture was created with the typewriter --
 yes, even the butterfly!  The butterfly is composed of brackets, hyphens,
 points, oblique strokes,  a single  asterisk, and several "o"s. 

  The journal commented: 
      "We think it will be generally admitted that the illustration is in the
      highest degree creditable to the artistic ability, skill and patience of the
      lady, and to the unique capabilities of the Bar-lock for this class of work. 
      It may be noted that in competitions for typewriter drawings Miss Stacey
      has been extremely successful.... An outsider, or one unaccustomed to
      the use of the typewriter, can scarcely realise what an expenditure of
      time and patience is necessary in order to successfully execute one of
      these curious drawings.  The paper has, of course, to be turned and
      re-turned, and twisted in a thousand different directions, and each
      character and letter must strike precisely in the right spot.  Often, just as
      some particular sketch is on the point of completion, a trifling
      miscalculation, or the accidental depression of the wrong key, will totally
      ruin it, and the whole thing has to be done over again."

 This brief synopsis describes some of the negative and positive aspects of typewriter
 art.  First of all, once a mistake is made, it generally can not be corrected.  There are
 no delete or overwrite keys on a typewriter.  Secondly, the positioning  of paper can
 be crucial. One slip and the typewritten picture may be ruined. 

 There are a number of techniques available to the typewriter artist that are not
 available to the ASCII keyboard artist.  A typewriter artist can manipulate the sheet of
 paper in various directions and angles.  The characters can be spaced in any way --
 often overstriking another character or "half-spacing" to achieve a special effect. 
 Typewriter art offers more flexibility and variation than the computer ASCII art. 
 However, ASCII art is much more forgiving. 

 Typewriter art was a popular art medium in the 1950s to the 1970s.  There are many
 wonderful examples of typewriter art found in Alan Riddell's book, Typewriter Art 
 (London, 1975).  Some of the images are colorized by using tinted ink ribbon. 
 Several of the images are abstract.  A few of the images are portraits (Queen
 Elizabeth, the Duke of Edinburgh, Gandhi, Winston Churchill, and Henri Chopin).  All
 of the pictures are superb.  There is a listing of over 60 typewriter artists who have
 contributed to this 100+ image collection, one of whom is Vaclav Havel, President of
 the Czech Republic. 

 I found the Henri Chopin portrait most clever as the image was created using only the
 letters of his name "henri chopin".  The background of this 1974 image repeatedly
 spells out "audiopoems".  The text artist is Robert Morgan.  He created the image as
 a design for the sleeve of Henri Chopin's record entitled "Audiopoems" -- Tangent
 Records.  (anyone else remember records and record sleeves?) 

 ( View the picture -- notice the overstriking technique that results in shading of the
 image -- Robert Morgan's "Henri Chopin" )

 Another fine example of typewriter art was posted on USENET a few years back.  A
 reader found an article in an unnamed magazine (1960) about a man named
 Guillermo Mendana Olivera. The article states that Mr. Olivera was a stenographer
 by day in Leon, Spain, and a keyboard artist by night. He used small o's and x's and
 periods, dashes, and commas to create his typewriter art masterpieces. And each
 picture took about 70 hours to complete! Incredible!  


 (The .gif of the magazine article was posted on the internet at:
 http://mypage.direct.ca/r/rcrawfor/ascii_bg.gif but I flagrantly copied it. With web sites
 coming and going, I wanted to make sure that I had this wonderful part of text art 
 history. Good thing too, if you go to that URL, you'll find a big 404 error.)

 There are very few books about ASCII art.  Most computer art text books deal
 with modern graphics and programming.  Eventually I'd love to put together
 a publication of my ASCII art creations, information on the history of text
 art, and the"how-to create" guidelines for ASCII art.  (Are there any
 publishers out there interested in such a project?)  In the meantime, you're
 stuck reading my cyberspace meanderings. 

 Below, you'll find a listing of typewriter art books that I've
 been able to identify.
                                   "Typewriter Art" by Dan Carlinsky 
                                   (1978, Price Sloan Publishers) 
                                   ISBN  0843104333 
                                   "Typewriter Art" edited by Alan Riddell  
                                   (1975, London Magazine Editions) 
                                   ISBN 0-900626-99-2 
                                   (Thank you Andrew Belsey for finding this
                                   book and forwarding it to me!) 
                                   "Art Typing"  by Nathan Krevolin 
                                   (1962, Fearon Pittman/MacMillan Publishers) 
                                   ISBN  0028306104 
                                   "Typewriter Art" by Bob Neill 
                                   "Second Book on Typewriter Art"  
                                   by Bob Neill 
                                   (1984, The Weavers Press)

 The book, "Art Typing",  written by Nathan Krevolin,  describes creating images--
 mostly text and borders-- with typewriter characters. Many of the pictures are made
 entirely out of "X"s...  For example: 

            XXXXXXXXXXXXXX          XXXXX 
         X          X       X       XXXXX
         X  XX  XX  X  XXX  X         X
         X  XX  XX  X  XXX  X         X
         X          X  XXX  X         X

                                                   This is a house 
                                                   and a tree as 
                                                  illustrated in the 
                                                    1962 book,  
                                                    "Art Typing"

 There is a section on how to make type-written reports, price lists, and menus, as well
 as how to make a card. (Perhaps a precursor to 'Print Shop'?) Some mention is made
 of half-spaces and tilting type paper to get a unique look-- neither of which apply to
 ASCII art. One page identifies 'cartooning' with keyboard characters-- this is the page
 which reminded me most of today's ASCII art... Here are two of the ten items pictured... 
                 S )))) S 
                SS -  - SS
               SSS o  o SSS
              SSSS  6   SSSS
               SSS  __  SSS
                SSS    SSS
                   W   W
                  WW  WWW
                WWWW  WWWW 

                                           ( ___  ___ XXXXXX
                                              o/   o   XXXXX 
                                           (  /        XXXXX
                                             /___)     XXXXX
                                          (             XXXX
                                         (     ____    ) XXX
                                          (               XX
                                           (          )    X
                                            (       )      *
                                              (    )      ***

              Two cartoon characters from the 1962 book, "Art Typing"

                  Typewriter Art by Bob Neill - Persian Cat


 Similar text images were broadcast via Radio Teletype (RTTY).  RTTY is a
 machine-to-machine method of communication which takes place over radio or
 telephone lines.  Its purpose is not for text art transmissions, but for text communication
 between operators.  The teletypewriter (or teleprinter) was invented in the early 1900s. 
 The largest manufacturer of the teleprinter in the United States was the Teletype
 Corporation.  The term "teletype" is used to refer to the teleprinter.  However the word
 "teletype" is actually a trademark of the AT&T Teletype Corporation (much like how the
 word "xerox" took over the copying machine industry).  The radio teleprinter became
 popular with the public after World War II when surplus teletype machines became
 available at a reasonable cost. These large machines provided a keyboard for input
 and a paper roll for printed output.  Video monitors didn't become feasible until the
 mid-1970s.  Even today, there are many active RTTY operators and clubs. 

 RTTY operators (ham operators) have used various codes to transmit messages.
 These codes include BCD, EBCDIC, Morgan code, and Baudot code.  However RTTY
 transmissions typically used the five-bit, 32 character Baudot code.   Initially, RTTY did
 not use seven-bit ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange). ASCII
 was not standardized until 1968.  There are differences between Baudot and ASCII.
 Differences include bit-size and number of characters allowed.  The  Baudot code uses
 numbers, upper case letters, and some punctuation characters.  It does not allow for
 lower case letters.  The ASCII code uses upper and lower case letters, numbers, and
 more of the "standard" punctuation characters. 

 There are, of course, other differences between the two codes.  For a more technical
 explanation, visit George W. Henry Jr.'s web site.  George Henry (K9GWT) has put
 together a paper which describes the differences between the two codes.  It provides
 some definitions for RTTY terms and examines the various interfacing standards used
 with ASCII and Baudot terminals:  http://fido.wps.com/ITA/index.html   Even though
 most radio amateurs In the United States use the Baudot code, they have been
 authorized by the FCC to use ASCII as well as the older Baudot code for RTTY
 communications.  This took effect in March of 1980. 

 Several RTTY enthusiasts have started to translate Baudot code to ASCII.  If you have
 some paper tapes of Baudot/ RTTY art which need to be converted, you can find a
 program to transform them at:  http://fido.wps.com/Baudot/index.html 

 The text art images sent in the ham radio community consist of capital letters and are
 sent on long paper tapes.  RTTY is slow.  Transmissions are sent at 45 baud -- 50 baud
 is standard in New Zealand.  Compare that to the 53,000 baud modem connections
 that we're using with our computers today!  A large RTTY art image could take an hour
 to transmit.  The speed of the RTTY transmission is approximately 60 -100 words per
 minute.  To get an idea of what it would look like, view one of the JAVA applets that
 simulates an RTTY transmission at http://www.megalink.net/~n1rct/sta/onair.html. 
 (URL no longer valid 8/00)I I would imagine that watching an RTTY art image
 materialize line-by-line would be quite mesmerizing. 

      RTTY Home page and History 
      RTTY Information 
      Teleprinter Museum 

 History of RTTY and Major Contributors - When and where and how it started, and
 how it advanced and changed over the years. Stories and short biographies of those
 individuals whose efforts advanced the hobby and made it better for others.  
       M.                                          .:M
       MMMM:.                                   .:MMMM
       MMMMMMMM:..                           .:MMMMMMM
           :MHHI::....::::HMMMMMMHHII::.. ..::::M:
            :M:HM:.M I:MHIIMMIIHM I:MM::.:MMI:M..
      '''   ...:MHI:.::MMHHHMHMIHMMMMHH.MI..........
        '''  ....MHI::..:MHHHHIHHMM:::IHM          ''''
            MHHHII::..::MII::.. ..:IIIHHHII:IM.
           .MHHII::....:MHII::.  .:IHHHI::IIHMM.
           MMHHII::.....:IHM:. ..:IIHII::..:HHMM
          .MHHI:::.........:III..II::... ...:IHMI
          :MMH:::........ ...::..::....  ...:IHMM
          IMHIII:::..........      .........::IHM.
          :MHIII::::......           .......::IHMM
           MHHIII::::..               ......::IHM:
           IMHHIII:::...              .....::IIHMM
           :MHHIII:::I:::...      ....::::I::IIHMM
              'M:MHM:M:MM:MMHIMHHIHMI      '::MMMMMMM:'

                     F A N G --  WA6PIR

                                        According to a chapter in the "RTTY
                                        Handbook",  text images have been sent
                                        via teletypewriter as early as 1923. 
                                        However, I have not discovered any of
                                        this "old" RTTY art.  From what I have
                                        found, the text images appeared
                                        frequently on radio teletype in the 1960s
                                        and the 1970s.  They were sent from ham
                                        operator to ham operator via radio
                                        transmissions.   I've been told that there
                                        was an article about RTTY art in an early
                                        1960s issue of "73 Magazine" -- the
                                        publication for RTTY enthusiasts.  I've had
                                        no such luck in locating it -- yet. 

                                        Many current ham operators agree that a
                                        gentleman named Don Royer is one of
                                        the foremost creators of RTTY art.  He
                                        signs his work with his ham operator
                                        identification, WA6PIR.  The picture at
                                        left is one of his many, many RTTY art
                                        creations.   Don has been a strong
                                        advocate for RTTY art and has organized
                                        RTTY art contests.  Due to illness, Don
                                        has not made recent text pictures. 

                                        To view more of Don Royer's amazing
                                        work, please visit George Hutchison's
                                        (W7KSJ) RTTY Art Gallery.  You will
                                        also find plenty more Teletype art
                                        pictures.  Most of them were recovered
                                        from paper tape and converted from
                                        Baudot to ASCII.   If you are JAVA
                                        enabled, be sure to see George's RTTY
                                        art viewer.  It is an awesome applet to

                                        Another source of RTTY/Baudot art can
                                        be found at Bob Roehrig's web site..  The
                                        first link will take you to an index that links
                                        to over 100 Baudot art pictures.  You'll
                                        recognize the ham operator ID# of Don
                                        Royer on several of them! 

                                        Collection of Baudot / RTTY Art:  

                                        More of Don Royer's pics... (GIF'd) 

                                        Another interesting web site that focuses
                                        on radio teletype artwork from the 1960's
                                        and 1970's can be found at the Jefferson
                                        Computer Museum web site.  The
                                        subtopic, Ancient Alphabetic Art,
                                        highlights teletype artwork from the1960s
                                        and the 1970s.  The webmaster, John
                                        Foust, has collected and posted
                                        numerous works from this era. You can
                                        also find information regarding outdated
                                        computer systems.  It is definitely worth a

 A copy of an early text art transmission (perhaps RTTY?) was submitted by 
 Charles Struble <strube@inetnebr.com>. He states: 

      "In 1969, as a young Marine, I was stationed in a CommCenter on
      Okinawa (3rdFSR) and we composed and sent this out to a slug of military
      installations. I decided to reproduce it and put it up hoping maybe
      someone remembers it or even better, is listed on it. If so, I'd sure like to
      hear from ya." 
      -Charles Struble strube@inetnebr.com 

      See "USMC" for the entire message

 Here is another early computer art image.  To be honest, I don't know if it is RTTY or not
 -- supposedly it is.  To me, it looks as though it might be too wide for teletype paper. 
 But what do I know?  This image was found at Jim's Computer Garage Museum
 (http://www.rdrop.com/~jimw/jcgm-vcfii.html  (URL no longer active 8/00) and is
 copyrighted to James Willing: Mona Lisa image 
 (Thanks Jim for letting me use it!) 


 Punch cards and punched paper tape were
 ways that information could be stored and
 rebroadcast.  Teleprinter messages could be
 received on tape and then be resent to other
 teleprinters by using a taper reader.  I haven't
 seen artwork created from punched paper tape,
 but I do remember seeing pictures made with
 punched cards.  The holes were punched in
 strategic locations so that when held to the light,
 the cards displayed an image.  The card I recall
 seeing was that of a Christmas tree.  Alas, it wasn't mine and it has long since
 disappeared.  I welcome e-mail from people who remember this art and might have an
 example of punch card art in their attic or basement! 

                        "Do not fold, spindle, or mutilate"


 There are many sites on the Internet that thoroughly describe what ASCII is all about.  I
 will not go into great technical detail.  However I will list a few web pages that have
 additional and detailed information about ASCII. 

 To begin, ASCII is an acronym for the American Standard Code for Information
 Interchange.  ASCII was created in the early 1960s but did not become a United States 
 government standard until 1968.  In the 1960s, there were many data communication
 codes that were competing for  the US Standard.  In 1962, IBM created and promoted
 a coding standard known as Extended Binary-Coded-Decimal Interchange Code
 (EBCDIC).  This was an 8-bit code which allowed up to 256 characters.   However it
 lost out to ASCII as a "PC standard".  EBCDIC is still used on many mainframe
 systems even today. 

 ASCII was defined by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in 1968 as
 "ANSI Standard x3.4".  It has also been described as ISO 636.  It is a 7-bit code that
 has a maximum of 128 characters/controls. ANSI is the Institute that defines American
 National standards.  ASCII code is one of these standards.  So, technically speaking,
 ASCII is an ANSI code.  Got that? 

 There is another ANSI standard, ANSI Standard x3.16, which is an 8-bit code.  This
 expansion was defined in 1979 in an effort to standardize graphic character
 representations and cursor control.  It is based upon a 256 character set.  It includes the
 128 characters/controls of ASCII and an extra 128 characters/controls.  It is sometimes
 called "extended ASCII" or "high ASCII", but it is really neither.  It is a different ANSI
 Standard -- but not the "American Standard Code". 

 Have I totally confused you? 
 For more reading on ASCII and other computer codes, look to the following: 


 To view the ASCII Code Charts 
 ( 7-Bit ASCII codes with Even parity, 7-Bit ASCII codes with Odd parity,  7-Bit ASCII
 codes with Space parity, 7-Bit ASCII codes with Mark parity, ASCII Control code
 details):    ( http://telecom.tbi.net/ascii1.html ) 

 To view the "Extended Character" set.  
 ( http://telecom.tbi.net/asc-ibm.html ) 



 Perhaps the real start of ASCII art is with the beginning of the Internet. The Internet
 began in the 1960's as a means to communicate if nuclear war broke out. Military
 authorities created a network called ARPANET which connected 37 computers and
 several defense departments. No war came (thankfully) and the computer system
 expanded to include universities and other educational institutions. For many years the
 Internet belonged to the military and to the schools. 

 In the early 1990's, the World Wide Web was developed in the Switzerland. It was there
 that Hyper-Text Mark-Up Language (HTML) was first used. HTML is what allows
 documents to have 'hyperlinks'-- those links which cause a surfer to jump from web
 page to web page. 

 Many people use the Internet for e-mail. Initially, the Internet was pure text - no graphics
 and certainly no animations.  E-mail was the same.  ASCII art was used to create
 diagrams and charts.  It was also used for "fun" and to enhance and liven up the plain
 text messages. 

 Besides digrams and charts, probably the earliest ASCII art from the Internet are the
 "Spy at the Wall" collection and the "Silly Cows" collection.  David Bader, an ASCII
 art enthusiast and editor of the 'Cows",  recently sent me the COMPLETE, UNCUT,
 ORIGINAL, and OFFICIAL Silly Cow collection!   These cows can be seen all over the
 Internet and are truly considered to be "classic" ASCII art..  

 ASCII art has also been used in the BBS (computer bulletin board systems) scene and
 in the underground art groups. 

 BBSs were developed in 1978 and became quite popular in the early 1980s..  MUDs
 (multi-user dungeons) and MUGs (multi-user games) also became quite popular in the
 early years of the Internet.  These are all text based applications.  So, if someone
 wanted to include a picture or diagram, it had to be created from text.  Even today,
 BBSs, MUDs, and MUGs exist -- many are still text based. 
 For more info on BBS and Multi-User Dungeons/Games: 

      Basic uses of Computer Bulletin Boards (includes History) 
      Local Bulletin Board Systems 
      Educational MUDS/MOOS 

 There is another group of people who have used/created ASCII art from the early days.
 These are  the "underground art groups" who create and package zipped files of art
 which can be downloaded from the.  Some of these groups have been around for many
 years and create ANSI, ASCII, "Extended ASCII" text pictures, and VGA animations. 
 Here are some relevant sites: 

      http://www.remorse.org (REMORSE) 
      http://artpacks.acid.org/ (ACiD) 

 Other art groups involved in the underground art scene include iCE and CHAOS. 



 ANSI art is a cousin to ASCII art.   It is often used on BBS (bulletin board systems).  It
 also includes color and animation codes.  ANSI art is still created today. 

      ANSI / ASCII Information 
      ANSi Maker extreme 
        includes ANSI related links/software (including "TheDraw")

 America Online (AOL) is one of the few Internet/e-mail programs that did not allow for a
 fixed-width font.  Up until the release of version 4.0, all AOL users had one font. -- yes,
 ONE font.  That one font was Arial-10.  Arial is a proportional font.  The ASCII art of the
 Internet looked totally skewed to AOL users.  In response, AOL users modified the
 spacing (by hand) so that the ASCII art would look good in their Arial proportional font.  
 There are many AOL text artists who specialize in creating the Arial font pictures. 
 Because their audience is solely other AOL users, "extended" characters are often
 used and seen without problems.  These AOL Arial-font text pictures have been called
 "macros".   Some misinformed people call them "ASCII Art" - they are not.  Obviously,
 the AOL macros and ASCII art are 'cousins'.  They are not the same.  Many of the AOL
 macros are quite good.  Unfortunately, they are not often seen or used by people
 outside of AOL (due to the font/spacing/character issues). 
 An example of a proportional -font AOL text art "Macros" by Jadie. 
                       -A gentle Kiss sent from up above- 
                         just to tell you that you are loved. 

                              ,.-` ` `    : .   ..--.'````-. 
                        ,.-`   :`:..   `::\.  '':  ,. .\::   `-,     * MSA *  
                     ,-` ``-....`''```::.:``-..  }:      :\:;`-. `-.     * 97 * 
                    `-...:``-. -~`.-`  /:  ;: :/:.`-..-~``: `   ;      * 
                    '-.,    /``.'-...-~``  `-,  ;:  /;|   `:. ;/:    ;; 
                   `-..   /_                    \.`::/ ;:._``` :;   ;;  
                    `-.../ `-@:}        -~-.. }:;/ :        ::;/:;:.--~`**`, 
                       /     ` .`     ..@:)':  {::  ''.``~``;..;;*`..~``* ;') 
                      {        `--..:     ``      ',  `''-...:;;. : ;\~''`~.-.~`; 
                      .\-..                       ::., `:;::/;::../:)``::-._:__;) 
                ,``( /. ,-`.;~..--.           ::: `=.`,;_..' ::::<``  -._; 
              ,`   :-`  ,-'' ;`'--`          .`              ``.::::::::(''`..``;;) 
              ;      `, :       `,.._... `   :::.;:             `-..::-``-.._;;): 
               ;::.   .`,::..     .     ',       ::::.  ;:::             ;: ''-_   ;) 
               ',::::.    `,:::.    `..;     `      ::\;::::            `,:*  `~ 
                `,:::..     /:: ..       |                `,: :;:... .    '`; 
                  ',::..  ;::::.       ;:::..              `-,::..::`       '. 
                   ',:    ;':::..        ;::...                 ',:::::::       ', 
                    ',  ,;`::::..       ;::.....:            :.. ',:: .:. .. .     ': 
                    /::/:::::..       ;:: :..`   _...-------;'-...__.:. .  `;. 
                  ;::  ;::  :        /  _ ..-'```                          ``.    ;; 
                ,',:: ;::: ..     ,-`'' _..-`` ..      ;::.                ;  ;; 
               (:   `--,....-~ '-..~`-..` ::`       ;;::,. ;::`             ;*-. 
                \::~          ..     `'-~~``--`'''`       `,..::.___,.'  ::} 
                /::::*`   ;{;  ~* Rphl   gl *~   .         ..:;', 
               ;:::::::`.     ::..    :::;;,,..        ;;                   ..:;:) 
              {:::::;;::::::::,...              .;;{::              ..:*`   ;:;} 
               ',;;;J*```...       ;;;::;\::;;;_...``  ';;__..'''';;; 

 Please keep in mind that the above Arial example looks good only in the Arial-10
 proportional font.  It will look skewed in other proportional fonts and in the fixed-width
 fonts as well.  It might even look a bit skewed when viewed in "your" Arial font.  Arial has
 been known to vary from system to system.   If you're interested in viewing more of the
 AOL proportional text art, visit the following sites: 


              Another place that the ASCII art is prevalent is on mIRC (Internet Relay
              Chat).  There are a number of chat channels that scroll colorized "ASCII"
              pop-ups or pictures.  Often the pop-ups include the "extended"
              characters.   This is rarely a problem since users are tied into the same
 mIRC software. 

      mIRC home page 

 There are many, perhaps thousands, of mIRC channels.  Popular ones to "play" the
 colorized pop-ups include #mirc_rainbow and #mirc_colors.  There are several IRC
 networks, the largest being Undernet.  Other networks include Efnet, Dalnet.. 
 And some related links: 

      MIRC Rainbow Home page 
      MIRC Colors Home page 
      Aisa's mIRC creations 
      Undernet Home page 
      http://www.undernet.org/ -- the largest Internet Relay Chat networks 


 The Internet continues to grow. As more personal and home computers are purchased,
 more people are joining in.   The 1999 Internet statistics have been released.  There
 are about 800 million pages on the World Wide Web.  Compare this to the 320 million
 pages estimate of 1997. 

 Electronic mail (e-mail) is widespread.  Almost everyone has an e-mail address.  
 People have discovered that e-mail is an efficient method of communication with
 friends and relatives.  There are a variety of e-mail software and programs available. 
 Some e-mail programs allow for graphic images -- but not all.  Even people who are
 capable of receiving images are hesitant to download unknown files and images.  
 ASCII art is text.  It does not have to be downloaded to be viewed.  For this reason,
 many people opt to send ASCII art. 

 Microsoft declared ASCII art "dead" in June of 1998.  Why?  I'm not sure.  But I would
 guess that Microsoft is encouraging people to use GIF and JPG graphics -- of course,
 with their software.  I also think that it is due to the fact that some software, namely
 Microsofts,  are now using a default proportional font setting. ASCII art will appear
 skewed when viewed in a proportional font.   All computer systems have capabilities for
 fixed-width font, so ASCII art isn't completely dead.  People only need to switch their
 font to a fixed-width one such as Courier, FixedSys, Monaco, or Lucinda Console. 

 ASCII art is not dead.  At least not yet.  People continue to be intrigued and amazed by
 what can be created using basic keyboard characters.  ASCII art is still used in e-mail,
 in e-zines, on BBSs, in MUDs/MUGs, and on mIRC.  ASCII art has been used in web
 page development.  The non-graphical graphics have served a purpose.  ASCII art  has
 also found its way off the Internet -- albeit slowly.  It has been used to illustrate books
 (look for Jon Barnbrook's British Art History publication -1999).   It has been used to
 illustrate in a magazine (see 1999 June issue of UK's EXE Magazine).  A reproduction
 of an ASCII rendering was recently shown in 1999's contemporary art fair in Malaga,
 Spain.  (www.mac21.com)  Heck, you can even get a chocolate bar with an ASCII'fied
 wrapper!  (www.gardenofinspirations.com)   -- don't be surprised to see that I make
 ASCII art T-shirts available in the future! 
                               .'\ '-.__.-' /'.
                              /  |    ,_    |  \
                             /   |  _/| \_  |   \
                             '-._/ \.-""-./ \_.-'
                                 | ( ^ \^ ) |
                                 |  \ == /  |
                                 |  /'--'\  |
                           jgs   |          |
                                 '._      _.'

 And it seems that someone has already gotten into the money-making aspect of ASCII
 art.  For only $50 or 31.41, you can have an image turned into ASCII -- well actually,
 into the numbers that make up the value of Pi.  The  Pi image is constructed from the
 digits 0 to 9 (and one decimal point).  Each digit has a different degree of darkness
 (grey scale).  The final image is a black and white bitmap with the following size: 150 x
 75 pixels.   I wonder if people have actually paid money for this... it seems like a simple
 conversion program.  Anyhow, take a look:  

      Image in Pi 
      (link no longer active - 8/00)

 Did I tell you?  ASCII art has also found its way into advertising.  Look at these recent
 advertisements using ASCII art...  (the Honda image doesn't cycle, click on it and reload
 your page to view the animation) 
                      Fatbrain.com ad -- {*}  


 I will continue to look for information about text art and other mediums leading up to
 ASCII art, as we now know it... In the meanwhile, I'd like to hear from you... 

 I have collected responses from various e-mail and USENET posts regarding the
 history of ASCII art. I have found it all to be interesting.  If anyone has more to add or
 comments to make, please add to the below "guest book"! 

                        Add To This ASCII Art History 
             See What People Have Added about ASCII Art History


       Want to find out more about old computers?  Check out the following links!

                           The Computer Museum

                          Vintage Computer Festival

                 the "MotherLode" of Computer History Links



                      Copyright 1999-2000 Joan G. Stark, All Rights Reserved: 
                   -- images remain copyright to the individuals who created them.--


AAAAH! MY EYES! Click here if you prefer a black and white color scheme.