My friend Benj Edwards knows more about odd little bits and pieces of computing history than just about anybody. Over at the Atlantic, he’s come up with a doozy: The story of a 1950s drawing rendered on the Air Force’s super-ambitious air-defense computer system. It may have been the first art ever created with a computer.
The drawing in question was based on a 1956 calendar painting by Esquire‘s George Petty, America’s favorite pin-up artist. Among the remarkable things about Benj’s piece is that he not only identified that the Air Force’s art was based on a Petty Girl, but figured out which Petty Girl it was.
The Air Force’s computer was known as SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Equipment). It was amazing for its time, and Benj provides a thorough look at it, too.
Bonus attraction for tech-history nerds: The vintage photo of the digital Petty Girl which Benj uncovered (and let me borrow for this post), taken by a 21-year-old Airman First Class in 1959, is…a Polaroid.