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03 DECEMBER 2012

Sinclair ZX81: semigraphical / pseudographical characters

"If you press GRAPHICS (shifted 9) then the cursor will come up as : this means graphics mode. If you type in a symbol it will appear in its inverse video form, & this will go on until you press GRAPHICS again or NEWLINE. RUBOUT will have its usual meaning. Be careful not to lose the cursor  amongst all the inverse video characters you've just typed in. ...

Right at the beginning are space & ten patterns of black, white & grey blobs; further on there are eleven more. These are called the graphics symbols & are used for drawing pictures. You can enter these from the keyboard, using graphics mode (except for space, which is an ordinary symbol using the  cursor; the black square is inverse space). You use the 20 keys that have graphics symbols written on them. For instance, suppose you want the symbol , which is on the T key. Press GRAPHICS to get the  cursor, & then press shifted T. From the previous description of the graphics mode, you would expect to get an inverse video symbol; but shifted T is normally <>, a token, & tokens have no inverses: so you get the graphics symbol  instead."

(Steven Vickers, 1981, Sinclair Research Limited)

Fig.1 "graphics mode" table from Steven Vickers (1981). "Sinclair ZX81 BASIC Programming", Second Edition 1981, Copyright 1980 Sinclair Research Limited (converted to HTML by Robin Stuart).

2). Matthew Eagles (2008). "ZX81 VDU" TrueType font which replicates the letters, numbers etc. displayed on the screen of the ZX81.



1980s19818-bitbasic geometric shapesblack and white • block graphics • computer historygeometric figuresgeometric shapes • graphic symbols • graphical building block • graphics mode • history of computinghome computerindustrial archaeologymanualmonotone • PETSCII • pictorial systemspixel matrix • pseudographics • semigraphical characters • semigraphics • Sinclair Research Ltd • Sinclair ZX80 • Sinclair ZX81 • sixels • symbolsymbolstypefacevintage technologyvisualisationZX81


Simon Perkins
03 MAY 2012

Ampers-Fan: the history of the ampersand

"The dark horse of the keyboard, the ampersand exists to join things together, yet remains set apart. Whilst everyone can read and understand the ampersand, or the & symbol, how many of us know where it came from?

Alistair Sooke traces the history of the funny little character that has quietly given joy to so many, from a bored medieval scribe right the way through to a modern day digital font designer. Delighting type designers throughout the centuries as a chance within a font to create a small piece of art, it is a joyful moment in a functional resource. Speaking to Ampersfans Alastair enters into a world of letterpress, punchcutting and typography and discovers how the ampersand can be found at every step of the way, bringing a joyful flick of a tail to the dullest document.

If you thought the ampersand was a bright young thing in the world of type, you couldn't be more wrong; first credited to Marcus Tiro around 63 BC, combing the letters e and t from the Latin word 'et'. Fighting off competition from his nemesis, the 'Tironian Mark', Alastair then tracks the ampersand to 16th Century Paris where it was modelled in the hands of type designer to the King, Claude Garamond, then back across the sea to William Caslon's now famous interpretation, designed with a joyful array of flourishes and swirls. Alastair will discover how the ampersand became a calling card for many typographers, showcasing some of their best and most creative work.

A simple twist of the pen, the ampersand has managed to captivate its audience since print began, in Ampersfan Alistair tries to pin down this slippery character down once and for all."

(BBC Radio 4 Programmes, 2012)

Alistair Sooke (2012). "Ampers–Fan", Producer: : Jo Meek & Gillian Donovan, A Sparklab Production for BBC Radio 4, Last broadcast on Monday, 16:00 on BBC Radio 4.


16th century • 63 BC • Alistair Sooke • Ampers-Fan • ampersand • BBC Radio 4Bodleian Library • Claude Garamond • digital font designer • e and t • esperluette • et • European Renaissancefont • functional resource • Garamond • history of type • interpretationJan TschicholdJohannes GutenbergLatin wordletterformletterpress • ligature • Marcus Tiro • medievalParis • punchcutting • symbol • Tironian Mark • twist of the pen • type • type designer • type designerstypefacetypography • William Caslon • world of type


Simon Perkins
13 MAY 2011

Flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand

"This flag was made on the Tory during its voyage from England to New Zealand in 1839 and raised at Petone on 30 September. The Tory carried New Zealand Company agents who intended to buy land from Maori. William Wakefield, the principal agent, referred to the flag as the 'colours of New Zealand' and the Tory gave it a twenty–one gun salute. It is possibly one of several used by the Company.

The flag's design was based on a flag adopted by a group of Maori chiefs at Waitangi in 1834 when New Zealand was an independent territory. The flag came to be known as the flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand, a term derived from an 1835 declaration of the country's independence by a group of northern chiefs.

The flag was the New Zealand Company's acknowledgement of the independent status of the country. After chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi with the British Crown in February 1840, the Union Jack was used as the national flag. When the Company continued to use the original New Zealand flag, Lieutenant–Governor William Hobson saw this as a challenge to the Crown's authority and dispatched an armed party to lower it on 30 June 1840. The next day the Union Jack was raised and British sovereignty proclaimed.

Despite the adoption of the Union Jack, the 1834 flag continues to have a special relevance to Maori and to the Treaty of Waitangi."

(Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa)

Fig.1 New Zealand Company flag, 1839, gift made to The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa by Andrew Haggerty Richard Gillespie, 1967



1834 • 1835 • 1839 • 1840Aotearoa New Zealand • British Crown • British historycolonial history • colours of New Zealand • flag • independent status • independent territory • Maori • Maori chiefs • Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa • national flag • national identity • New Zealand Company • Petone • sovereigntysymbolTe Papa Tongarewa • Tory (ship) • Treaty of WaitangiUnion Flag • United Tribes of New Zealand • vexillologyvisual identityvoyage • Waitangi • William Hobson • William Wakefield


Simon Perkins
15 MARCH 2011

A simple abstract model of human communication

"One of the first designs of the information theory is the model of communication by Shannon and Weaver. Claude Shannon, an engineer at Bell Telephone Laboratories, worked with Warren Weaver on the classic book 'The mathematical theory of communication'. In this work Shannon and Weaver sought to identify the quickest and most efficient way to get a message from one point to another. Their goal was to discover how communication messages could be converted into electronic signals most efficiently, and how those signals could be transmitted with a minimum of error. In studying this, Shannon and Weaver developed a mechanical and mathematical model of communication, known as the 'Shannon and Weaver model of communication'. ...

Shannon and Weaver broadly defined communication as 'all of the procedures by which one mind may affect another'. Their communication model consisted of an information source: the source's message, a transmitter, a signal, and a receiver: the receiver's message, and a destination. Eventually, the standard communication model featured the source or encoder, who encodes a message by translating an idea into a code in terms of bits. A code is a language or other set of symbols or signs that can be used to transmit a thought through one or more channels to elicit a response in a receiver or decoder. Shannon and Weaver also included the factor noise into the model. The study conducted by Shannon and Weaver was motivated by the desire to increase the efficiency and accuracy or fidelity of transmission and reception. Efficiency refers to the bits of information per second that can be sent and received. Accuracy is the extent to which signals of information can be understood. In this sense, accuracy refers more to clear reception than to the meaning of message. This engineering model asks quite different questions than do other approaches to human communication research."

(Communication Studies, University of Twente)

Shannon, C.E., & Weaver, W. (1949). The mathematical theory of communication. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Hawes, L.C. (1975). Pragmatics of analoguing: Theory and model construction in communication. Reading, MA: Addison–Wesley.

Fig.1 Mathematical (information) model of communication.



abstract modelabstractionaccuracyBell LabsBell Telephone LaboratoriesClaude Shannon • communicating system • communicationcommunication processcommunication theorydisorderefficiencyentropyfidelity • human communication research • information technologyinformation theorymeaning makingmessagemodel of communicationnoise • output • pioneeringpredictabilityrandomness • receiver • reception • redundancysignalsymbolsystems approachsystems theorytheory of communication • transmission • transmission model of communicationtransmitter • University of Twente • Warren Weaver


Simon Perkins
25 APRIL 2010

Flagging interest in Nation Branding and National Identity?

"We are a changing, emerging state that no longer seeks inspiration from the present flag. It is part of our history and the role that it has played can be respected. We are moving from a predominantly bicultural society to one that now involves an important component of Pacific island people and also immigrants from Asia.

We must now seek inspiration, visual excitement and stimulus to creativity and excellence from many directions and develop a flag that can be a source of pride to New Zealanders as we continue to impact strongly on the wider world in the many areas of commerce, sport, films, literature, tourism and creative thinking in which we have to strive to excel."

(Ian Prior, 27 February 2004)

Fig.1 New Zealand National flag and state ensign; Fig.2 Michael Smythe, 'Koru (after Gordon Walters)'; Fig.3 Cameron Sanders; Fig.4 'Tino Rangatiratanga'; Fig.5 Kyle Lockwood.








2004Aotearoa New ZealandAsia-Pacificautonomy • biculturalism • brand development • brand recognitionBritish Empirechange of imageCommonwealthconstitution • creation of a brand • defaced Blue Ensign • distinguishing featuresflag • Gordon Walters • historyidentityindependenceIndigenous • koru • Koru Flag • Maori • Michael Smythe • motifnation brandingnational identity • Trust • PacificPakehaplace brandingpostcolonial • Southern Cross • sovereigntysymbol • Tino Rangatiratanga • vexillologyvisual identity


Simon Perkins

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