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64 Bits celebrates WWW history in 64 moments

Iconic Apples browse the web at 64 Bits
Iconic Apples browse the web at 64 Bits

When did the world wide web become history? As the iconic ‘Dancing Baby’ turns 21, internet users, budding digital historians and the simply curious are offered a trip down www. memory. lane in London from 30th March to 21st April 2017.

64 Bits: An exhibition of the Web’s lost past, a new interactive showcase of 64 seminal moments in the web’s history, is taking place at The Press Centre, Here East, in iconic Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Billions of people use the web on a daily basis – but do you know who invented the search engine? Would you be interested in browsing the world’s first ever website? Have you ever heard of Susan Kare?

64 Bits is a fun, interactive recreation of the early years of the web. As part of a wider digital archaeology project, it 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.

Icons by Susan Kare have become part of our culture
Icons by Susan Kare have become part of our culture

Equally significant, is the work of designer Susan Kare. Her icons and fonts have been seen by billions of people, yet few know her name. The exhibition incorporates a selection of the key milestones in her career, including the original Macintosh icons, the MacPaint interface and the Microsoft Solitaire playing cards.

Legends of the lost

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.

The Dancing Baby was one moment in Weird Worldwide Web history
The Dancing Baby was one moment in Weird Worldwide Web history

A key part of the exhibition is an open-door digital media archiving service, supported by the British Library, where artists and designers can bring in obsolete media to migrate inaccessible historical artwork to a modern format. Where appropriate, the excavated work will be exhibited as part of the exhibition.

Eboy pixel art
Eboy pixel art

Curator Jim Boulton says, “The early lessons of the web are in real danger of being lost forever. With Here East’s focus on digital innovation and the Olympic Park’s legacy remit, then Here East is the perfect venue for 64 Bits.”

Lucy Bawden, Programme Manager at Here East says, “The exhibition will be the starting point for a programme of related workshops and talks at Here East around digital art and the connection of technology and creativity.”

Marilyn Monroe in ASCII art (click to enlarge)
Marilyn Monroe in ASCII art (click to enlarge)

64 Bits celebrates the formative years of digital culture, and during the exhibition you can:

  • Browse the very first website from 1991
  • Search the web on Archie, the first search engine
  • Enjoy the very first web comic
  • Order a pizza on the first transactional website
  • See if the coffee is brewed on the world’s first webcam
  • Check out the first animated website
  • Create your own digital city
  • Take home your very own ASCII portrait
Poster
64 Bits poster - click to enlarge
64 Bits poster – click to enlarge
About the Curator

Jim Boulton is the entrepreneur behind one of the UK’s earliest web start-ups, Large Design and is now Digital Director at Aesop Agency. He is the author of 100 Ideas that Changed the Web, published by Lawrence King and curated the historical part of The Barbican’s hugely successful exhibition, Digital Revolution.

When and where

64 Bits is open Monday to Sunday 12-6pm, until 8pm Thursday, and can be visited until 21st April 2017.

The exhibition is FREE and open to the public.

MORE INFO: www.64bits.co.uk

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About the Venue

The Press Centre, Here East, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London E20 3BS. Here East is London’s home for making. With 1.2 million square feet in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Here East brings together business, tech, media, education and data in the pursuit of innovation. They’re home to established names and nimble startups alike.

Images courtesy 64 Bits 

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