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Pixel Mainframe

planted on in: Retro Computing and Pixel Art.
~382 words, about a 2 min read.

Pixel Mainframes

Five years ago, on the 16th of August 2010 inspired by the incredible works of art found on the pixel joint I began my own pixel art project simply called: The Pixel Mainframe. Initially I had only set out to draw realistic interpretations of mainframe computers from the 1950s and 1960s using isometric pixel art techniques, but as the project developed I decided to put it all together into one big bustling office scene.

As often is the case, I became distracted with more pressing concerns and The Pixel Mainframe project fell to the wayside and eventually forgotten. That is, it was forgotten; I recently discovered a cache of hard drives that turned out to be backups of data I believed to be lost when my (then ageing) mac died early in 2014.

Above you can see my isometric interpretation of the IBM 360, PRIME 550 Mk II and the Digital VAX 11/780 base units in all their pixel glory. Aside from the now obvious inconstancies in the lighting I am quite proud of these and intend to continue the project. As a little incentive to begin drawing some more of the scene and other mainframe computer systems I decided to put together a little scenery for @DerNaderer's What's beneath the Chicken street collaboration.

Chicken Street Mainframe

Back in 2010 I couldn't find enough photographic reference material to determine if there were any more units to the mainframes I was drawing than those I had already drawn. Looking into the IBM 360 I can see now that my original drawing is indeed missing several units. I am still not sure what their purpose is so I have taken artistic license on how a mainframe scene could look and the above is my completed small scene. There are still some inconsistencies with the lighting and some of the objects could have been drawn with more texture and shading but overall I am happy to have gotten back into drawing isometric scenes.

I am interested in some feedback on this scene and intend to add to it in the future, any feedback on the piece will be appreciated.

The pixel font used is called Apple ][ by Ivan Rood.

Page History

This page was first added to the repository on March 21, 2021 in commit 83e1321a and has since been amended 7 times. View the source on GitHub.

  1. refactor(#304): move files into src folder
  2. feat(#108): removes categories in favour of tags (topics)
  3. feat(#108): moved content into digital garden structure and began work on content type pagination
  4. chore: revived dead link
  5. refactor: add growthStage meta to posts