The Pixel Pioneer


A graduate of New York University, Susan Kare re-shaped how the world looked at computers by redesigning the way the world viewed fonts. Kare was responsible for the first proportionally spaced font family, a monumental step that led to the iconic font families introduced by Steve Jobs in Mac operating systems. As a pioneer, many of the readily identifiable icons Kare produced were originally hand-drawn sketches because the technology used to code such icons had not been created.

While most of Kare’s icons became beloved and inviting symbols to Mac users, certain symbols such as the ‘bomb’ have a much more whimsical backstory: initially designed to indicate a system failure, this playful explosive caused a commotion when a customer reported that the icon had led her to believe her computer might explode. Other icons, such as the ‘moof’ or ‘spotted dog’ became famous for its role as the icon representative of landscape or portrait mode: because of its unusual appearance many Mac users thought it looked like a comical cross of a dog and a cow, dubbing it the ‘moof’.

Serving as pictographical representations meant to simplify and enhance the user experience, today’s Mac icons reflect the simplicity and effective use made famous by Kare’s initial designs. Kare’s formidable lexicon of graphic icons drew inspiration from everything from Asian writing styles to Egyptian hieroglyphs, sometimes even taking note of popular gadgets used by co-workers. The end result was an operating system that felt intuitive and uncomplicated: a trait that is reflected in the expediency with which younger Mac users ‘pick up’ and understand Mac technology.

You can read more on Susan Kare here.

Charlotte Kellogg is a Communications Media major graduating from Goucher College in May. Charlotte is currently interning at Jumpthru during her winter break. She is an active horse woman, and hopes to one day combine her love of horses and communications for a therapeutic riding center.


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