Before the days of mass computers and desktop publishing, printing was a completely manual process. Images such as those termed Clip Art were physically cut-out from existing printed works (hence the name) and pasted on to a board which was the same size as the printed page and then photographed from where the image would then be printed. The development of computers throughout the 1980s effectively made the old ‘paste-up’ process redundant and during the 1990s desktop publishing became the norm for virtually all forms of printing.
The development of digital Clip Art started in the early 1980s with the introduction of the IBM PC in 1981 but it wasn’t until three years later and the introduction of Apple Macintosh’s GUI (graphical user interface) allied with new laser printers such as the LaserWriter that the whole process became more accessible and easier to use for day-to-day consumers. From there the technology snowballed with the new MacPaint program and a company called T/Maker who developed an early word processor WriteNow commissioned for the Macintosh by a certain Steve Jobs. T/Maker developed the first serious commercial Clip Art packages marketed under the name ClickArt and went on to host one of the largest Clip Art libraries.
The 1990s saw further increases in innovation and computing power to the point where Microsoft offered it as a built-in feature of their packages although early versions were somewhat limited. In 1996 Microsoft Word 6.0 included only 82 Clip Art files whereas now there are literally tens of thousands. Development since has increased at a stellar rate particularly with the rise of the world wide web to the point now where whatever you want you can get provided you know where to look.
But enough of this impromptu and probably not very interesting history lesson. Let’s have a look at these fantastic images from what looks like 1960s America when Clip Art and let’s face it the whole world was simpler and far less complicated.