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This is a series of posters commemorating various graphical user interface elements and applications which did not stand the test of time.

If you have any ideas for things to put in next posters, let me know! The posters are originally designed for 27”×41” (one-sheet) format, but can be scaled down even to A4 while still looking good.

Series 1 (October 2003)

“Happy mac” obituary
This image can be zoomed“Happy mac” obituary
Metal trash obituary
This image can be zoomedMetal trash obituary
Switcher obituary
This image can be zoomedSwitcher obituary
File manager obituary
This image can be zoomedFile manager obituary
MS-DOS obituary
This image can be zoomedMS-DOS obituary

If you would like any of those posters in the high-quality printable format, let me know.

Series 2: Apple Lisa (January 2005)

Apple Lisa obituary
This image can be zoomedApple Lisa obituary
Twiggy obituary
This image can be zoomedTwiggy obituary

Download both posters in a ZIP archive (600 KB).*


[Happy Mac obituary]

The Happy Mac icon, designed by Susan Kare, appeared in 1984 along with Apple Macintosh. It was the first thing every Macintosh user has seen displayed on their computers, and the first sign of Macintosh GUI superiority – instead of undecipherable boot messages on PCs, it was either Happy Mac if everything was okay or Sad Mac if the computer was somehow damaged. With years Happy Mac got company in form of “Welcome to Macintosh” and “Starting up” splash screens, and received colour treatment. To the dismay of many users, it has become one of the victims of “severing old ties” strategy and replaced with gray Apple logo in Mac OS X Jaguar in 2002.

[Metal Trash obituary]

The metal Trash, originally drawn by Susan Kare, has been part of Macintosh operating system since its beginnings in 1984 (and actually dating back to 1983 and Apple Lisa’s Wastebasket). Part of the “desktop metaphor,” it has been designed for deleting documents, but also – to the amazement of many users – ejecting disks from drive. Its appearance has been constantly updated during the following years. System 3 reversed the ridges for a cleaner look, System 4 added different appearance for full trash, System 7 shading, and Mac OS 8’s Trash was drawn – as all icons – in isometric “Copland” view. The metal can finally gave way to Mac OS X’s office wire Trash in 2001.

[Switcher obituary]

Unlike Apple Lisa, Macintosh originally did not allow for running more than one program simultaneously. All that changed with the introduction of Andy Hertzfeld’s Switcher in September 1985. After preselecting a set of applications (up to eight if there was enough memory) it was later possible to switch between them without quitting any. While still a far cry from multitasking, it made users of Fat Mac and Mac Plus significantly happier. The program was available for free or $19.95 with documentation (as Switcher Construction Kit). It was later superseded by Servant, but both were rendered obsolete in late 1987, when System 4.2 with MultiFinder was released.

[File Manager obituary]

Short-lived File Manager originated from MS-DOS Executive present in first and second editions of Microsoft Windows. It was first included with Windows 3.0 in 1990 as a sidekick to Program Manager, but quickly proved clumsy, inconsistent and awkward to use. To deal with files people dropped to MS-DOS shells, or in later years launched one of many third-party replacements. Despite enhancements in Windows 3.1, 3.11 and the last version in Windows NT 3.51, File Manager never really caught on, being widely regarded as a failure. It has been superseded by Explorer in 1995’s and subsequent editions of Windows.

[MS-DOS obituary]

MS-DOS 1.0 was bundled with the original IBM PC. As with the computer itself, it gained popularity in spite of its obvious flaws. Even though the expected final releases were to be the popular 3.2 and 3.3, the line continued through bloated 4.0, multilingual 5.0, and 6.22 in 1994. Reversing the earlier trend, later versions were available only as part of Windows 95 (7.0) and 98 (7.1). 2000’s Windows Millennium Edition was based on the last, minimal MS-DOS release, 8.0 – although later editions of Windows featured Command Prompt, they removed most references to MS-DOS. Microsoft discontinued the remains of support for its first operating system by the end of 2002.

[Apple Lisa obituary]

After unsuccessful Apple III, the ranks of Apple Computer’s biggest failures were joined by Lisa. This in many ways revolutionary machine was the first commercial personal computer to feature a graphical user interface, controlled by a unique one-button mouse. Lisa’s GUI refined and enhanced upon the ideas first seen in Xerox Star workstation, introducing such concepts as dragging, double-clicking, on-screen trashcan and pull-down menus. Unfortunately, priced at $9,995, Lisa was an expense not many businesses could afford. The computer was also slow, and eventually lost the competition with Macintosh, which offered a little bit less for much less.

[Twiggy obituary]

Twiggy, one of the many ambitious technologies incorporated in Lisa, was the next generation floppy disk drive, produced in-house by Apple. It featured auto ejection and was razor-thin like its human namesake. Using proprietary 5” disks, it allowed for 860 kilobytes of storage (compared to 160 kilobytes for other computers of its time) by using variable motor speeds and double data rate. However, Twiggy drives were slow and plagued by reliability and production problems. For a while threatening the already much delayed Macintosh project, at the eleventh hour they have been replaced by 400-kilobyte Sony 3.5” disks, which soon became industry standard.


* Some rights reserved. Posters licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License. Link points to external site

Page added on 6th August 2003, and updated on 22nd January 2005.

Copyright © 2002-2006 Marcin Wichary, unless stated otherwise.