ASCII Art's grandfather: Paul Smith

Grey sez, "Paul Smith, born in 1921, with cerebral palsy is probably is one of the first to use ASCII characters to make art. Through the years, he developed techniques to create shadings, colors, and textures that made his work resemble pencil or charcoal drawings." Link (Thanks, Grey!)

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  1. Thanks for that clip link. It’s hard to get excited about this guy’s work because the pictures on the site are so small. To really appreciate it you would need huge hi-res images.

  2. Back in the day, Price/Stern/Sloan! published a book of his art. Amazing stuff. (I remember seeing “Feline Princess” in there.)

  3. What used to be called “RTTY art” (RTTY is short for “radioteletype”) was long popular with amateur radio operators who got their hands on retired teletype equipment. RTTY used 45-baud (45 *bits* per second!) “baudot” code to send messages. (Baudot was an ASCII precursor.)

    Back in the day, this involved taping a piece of artwork to a piece of (continuous roll) teletype paper, and then carefully choosing and typing one character at a time while punching a paper tape. One mistake meant starting all over again! Some amazing efforts were part of the Christmas tradition for news services operators (UPI for example).

    An example archive for “RTTY art” (Google “rtty.art” for more):
    http://artscene.textfiles.com/rtty/

  4. My amusement at the RTTY pr0n is surpassed only by my disgust that it was probably, er, used as such, and that only by my pity for those who did.

  5. I have yet to see any porn and what people did with these pics is none of my or your business. What I have seen are erotic images that appeal mostly to men. Pin up girls are not porn.

  6. Most of the RTTY pix traded by “hams” were work-friendly. Pinup girls were all over (calendars in restaurants, garages, farm-implement dealerships, for example) long before Playboy. Not to mention Betty Grable.

    I’m amused that anyone, in this day-and-age, could “pity” people who enjoy erotic images.

  7. Most of the RTTY pix traded by “hams” were work-friendly. Pinup girls were all over (calendars in restaurants, garages, farm-implement dealerships, for example) long before Playboy. Not to mention Betty Grable.

    I’m amused that anyone, in this day-and-age, could “pity” people who enjoy erotic images.

  8. This is a great example of typewriter art (and thus concrete/visual poetry, by extension?), but I don’t know if I’d say it’s a forerunner of ASCII art.

    ASCII art is the ASCII chars, yes, just like your finding on the typewriter — but it’s also all the chars found on a (usually) fixed grid (vertical, if not horizontal) and with no individual shading variations (cf key-pressure on a typewriter) aside from the relative solidity of the char.

    OTOH, that’s a semantic quibble?

  9. My Dad worked for the phone company & was also a Ham Radio operator. I sometimes used to go with him on the weekends down to the phone company C.O. (central office) & there would be a couple of teletype machines going off. Occasionally someone would send pictures over them. He would tell me that the person that was doing that was bored cause it took quite a bit of time to do. There was some amazing art that came over those. As a kid I had a picture of a wolf howling at the moon that came over the RTTY. I also remember that he had one in his Ham shack that he resurrected from a dead one. Mostly messages from other Ham’s, but pictures also. Pin up girls too! It was amazing stuff to a young boy. I still find it facsinating. Too bad nobody does it anymore.

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