My first computer was a KayPro II – what was yours?

The year was 1983 when I simultaneously bought a “state-of-the-art” KayPro II “portable” computer and enrolled in a Computer Science class at the University of Southern California. The class was required to earn a B.S. degree in Business Administration and I thought the computer would give me the edge, although I had no clue on how to use it.

The KayPro II computer was created by San Diego digital technology pioneer, Andrew Kay and built in a very busy factory in Solana Beach. The selling price was $1,595, plus tax – in 1982 dollars! That’s about $5,000 in 2022 dollars – a princely sum for a starving student like myself. Although, it did include a large dot matrix printer that could print 15 characters per second onto continuous feed paper.

The Kaypro II had 64 kilobytes of memory and two built-in 5.25 inch floppy drives. For comparison, there are 1,000,000,000 (yes, that reads one billion) kilobytes in 1 terabyte of today’s memory.

In the end, I used the computer as a word processor a few times, but never anything else. I sold it with the original carton, the printer, and all the paperwork for $500 at a garage sale in 1995.

By the way, I got a “C” grade in the computer science class.

British science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke using a Kaypro II in 1985.
courtesy AP/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists

Otl Aicher’s designs for the 1972 Summer Olympics

I recently learned the story of the 1972 Summer Olympic Games “pictograms” and the impact of the artist behind these iconic images.

Three artists were extraordinarily influential in the use of abstract pictograms to help inform, educate and guide athletes and spectators to the many venues and destinations during these massive sports spectacles, which attracted people from across the globe speaking many different languages. Masaru Katzumie and graphic designer Yoshiro Yamashita pioneered the original concept of pictograms for the Tokyo Olympics in 1964.

However, the pictograms created by Otl Aicher (1922–1991) for the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics Games’ iconography, visual language, and the event’s all-encompassing graphic schemes are worth a closer examination.

Otl Aicher’s designs for the 1972 Summer Olympics

Aicher was already a highly successful and influential German designer who had survived the horrors of Nazi Germany and was a co-founder of the Bauhaus-inspired Ulm College of Design. He embraced functionality and efficiency in design with all his commercial clients.

To achieve his personal goal to “maintain the positive aspects of Berlin while at the same time eradicating its negative connotations,” Aicher created a universal visual language through his pictograms that was used on virtually all visual Olympic communications including tickets, directional signage, programs, awards presented to competitors, and much more.

We’ll find that these innovative pictograms have been adopted and adapted almost universally around the world by other venues as a means to communicate across languages and cultures, especially at airports, transit lines, and other places where diverse crowds gather and transverse.

When successfully designed, these abstract shapes evoke a sense of reassurance and anticipation to the viewer trying to maneuver and find directions to a destination as they navigate through and towards unfamiliar territories and landscapes.


Time machine: Everyone’s Using Our ATMs!

My first job after graduating from the University of Southern California in 1983 was working in the marketing department at First Interstate Bancorp in downtown Los Angeles. Shortly after I left eleven years later, the bank was acquired by Wells Fargo Bank.

Here’s a photo found recently in a dusty box at the back of the workshop from one of the most successful marketing campaigns my team created at the time.

So let’s take a trip in the First Interstate Bank Time Machine… to 1985 when we launched “CIRRUS” the ATM network, which allows customers to use the ATMs of other banks. Today, we take that convenience of using any ATM we see for granted – but in 1985 when First Interstate Bancorp was one of the founding banks that launched CIRRUS, it was a revolutionary idea in banking convenience.

This multi-media promotion helped educate our competitors’ customers that they could use our “Day & Night Teller” ATMs. The campaign featured “everyday” bank employees, including Andrew Perez of Corporate Banking (shown here holding the “Cirrus” Card) along with animated characters from Universal Studios, holding the ATM cards of our competitors, including Wells Fargo and Bank of America.

It was quite the challenge getting the legal and copyright clearances from all the banks, to say the least.

The window decals shown above, just one of the many advertising elements of the campaign, were installed at hundreds of the bank’s locations across Southern California.

It sure was fun and very successful, with many legendary behind-the-scenes stories that perhaps someday deserve to be told… I wish I still had a copy of the television, billboard, and radio ads… maybe I’ll find one in a dusty box somewhere!


Fly time at Cahuilla

Southern California old timers like myself who rode dirt bikes back in the 1960s and 1970s remember the legendary places to ride and race including Saddleback Park, Indian Dunes, Barstow-to-Vegas, just to name a few.

There’s a place between Palm Springs and Temecula in Southern California that gives me a flashback to those fond memories called Cahuilla Creek Motocross.

Check it out next time you’re traveling the Palms to Pines Scenic Byway in and out of Palm Springs.


Coming this summer!

Look for Abetica Studios’ new on-line gallery store opening this summer, where you’ll be able to select and acquire beautifully-made limited and open-edition photographs created by Dan and a few of his friends in a variety of sizes and custom formats delivered right to your door!

Subscribe to our blog below for updates!