Made a bit of a fool of myself today, mistakingly implying thatI was building webpages using brushed-aluminum backgrounds back in1990 (my actual statement was that I was doing so “about 15years ago“, but I didn’t actually think through what thatwould mean). In reality the date was closer to 1994, where I wasbuilding a little PC configuration tool for a retail computer shop(which was a component of a complex corporate structure thatincluded a music store, home theatre equipment, and computerconsulting and sales), allowing users to dynamically configure a PCand get a price (the server-side scripting was some innovativecompletely proprietary script), and then print out their config andbring it in to place an order.
The impetus for the discussion was the implication by anindividual that if Microsoft used brush-metal backgrounds, clearlythey’re ripping off Apple (as Apple fanatics believe that Appleinvented everything. I view Apple very favourable, but moretimes than not they’re simply executing ideasbetter and more beautifully thanpeople before them).
My reply was that brushed-metal backgrounds were some of thefirst uses of the BACKGROUND attribute: I fondly recallupgrading my PC configuration web “app” to use a classic brushedaluminum look. This was long before Apple started using brushedmetals on their desktops. I was hardly an innovator, and suchbackgrounds were pretty common because they looked like somethingpeople could relate to in the real world, yet they could be lowcontrast and compatible with overlaid text. They are an obviousand inevitable background.
Outside of my chronology problem, what struck me as mostdisturbing was the impression some have about the state ofcomputers in 1990 – that the ability for brushed-metal graphics toeven exist was simply an impossibility. How absurd. In 1990 theAtari ST andAmiga, both verygraphically rich PCs, had existed for a half-decade, and werecertainly capable of creating and displaying a trivial brushedaluminum graphic. Apple was already up to the immensely powerfulApple IIfx (Ilusted over ads for that “Wickedly Fast” PC). Windows was alreadyout for 5 years, and Microsoft was already a billion dollarcompany. The WWW didn’t exist, but a lot of us had been usingbulletin board systems, and interconnected message systems(Fidonet, Usenet, and various others) for quite some time. Whileyou couldn’t run a Photoshop effect and generate a brushed metal,people would load up long-existing raster graphics programs andplug in the pixels to generate the desired effect.
The point, if there is one, is that Google didn’t invent theinternet, and Apple didn’t invent graphics. This whole “computerthing” has been going on for a while.