Media obsolescence, failing hardware and the transient nature of websites mean the early years of the web are in danger of disappearing entirely. 64 Bits: Bytesize was an intelligent and interactive exhibition and collaboration between Publicis UK and curator, Jim Boulton at the end of 2017. It celebrated technologies of the past and explored how they will influence and mould the digital era of the future.
As part of a wider digital archaeology project, 64 Bits seeks to plug gaps in the historical record by telling the stories of the forgotten artist engineers that shaped today’s digital culture. Take Alan Emtage, Barbadian-born inventor of the search engine. Billions of people use the technology he created on a daily basis but very few know his name. The exhibition includes a working version of his first search engine, Archie, and Alan also made a rar appearance in conversation with curator Jim Boulton during the exhibition.
Equally significant, is the work of designer Susan Kare. Her icons and fonts have been seen by the masses, yet few know her name. The exhibition incorporates a selection of key milestones in her career, including the original Macintosh icons, the MacPaint interface and the Microsoft Solitaire playing cards.
These are not isolated cases. Many pioneering examples of digital creativity from our recent digital past can no longer be seen. Files have been lost or stored on redundant media. People have passed away. Companies have gone out of business. Stories have been lost. 64 Bits explores these forgotten roots and offers alternate histories.
Jim Boulton, Curator, Writer and Digital Archeologist
Alan Emtage, Consultant and Inventor of the Internet Search Engine
Soul Labels, Creative Polymath Group