Power On Icon update

Well, the question I asked about the origins of the power on icon is still unanswered, but I do have an update.

Cameron (beautiful site, by the way!) mentioned in the comments that Don “Design of Everyday Things” Norman ran into a related problem when designing the power on icon for the Macintosh, I figured I’d throw caution to the wind and email Don directly. Seeing how he was intimately involved with the design of a power on icon, I was hoping he might be able to help.

I wasn’t really expecting a response, but almost fell out of my chair when I received a reply back from him within eight hours. I love the Internet!

The icon you are talking about is a world-wide international standard,
either ANSI or ISO (that’s the name of standards groups).

The | means “on” (as in 1 for one). The O means off (as in zero for off).
The | inside a circle means it is a push-button switch that toggles the
power on or off. The | inside a broken circle indicates that the power does
not go completely off. (Because if it did, you couldn’t use a remote
control or tap on a keyboard key to turn it back on.) The standards
committee wanted to distinguish between closed circle and broken circle for
safety reasons.

He then mentioned that armed with this information, googling or searching for “ANSI ISO power switch standard” might help turn up something. I still haven’t found any specifics on who exactly created the icon design, but I’m working on it.

Don (and Cameron) both mentioned this chapter, written by Don on the difficulties of designing the original Macintosh power on icon design:

And Don also mentioned this presentation by Jonathan Amsterdam on the same chapter.

The search continues…

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