Before Mac there was very little by way of GUI (Graphical User Interface). I can still remember the green and black screens with command lines to get into and out of programmes. And then things changed. Suddenly we could click on things to navigate our way around using icons as signposts. Enter Susan Kare, the mother of the Mac Icon…

Kare joined Apple Computer, Inc. after receiving a call from her high school friend, Andy Hertzfeld, in the early 1980s. Susan Kare worked at Apple Computer starting in 1982. She was originally hired into the Macintosh software group to design user interface graphics and fonts; her business cards read “Macintosh Artist”. – Wikipedia

It was a wild thought reading about Susan Kare. I’d never thought about the person that made our computer experience pretty. I’d never imagined that there was a giant conversation going on with the developers as to how things needed to look. And as you read about Kare, you discover that much care was taken to ensure that the icons were not only beautiful, but meaningful as well.

In a FastCompany Article on Kare some of her history is described:

After graduating from New York University with a Ph.D. in fine arts, Kare took a curatorial job at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, where she quickly felt like she was on the wrong side of the creative equation. “I’d go talk to artists in their studios for exhibitions,” she recalls, “but I really wanted to be sitting in my studio.” Soon Kare earned a commission from an Arkansas museum to sculpt a razorback hog out of steel. That was the project she was tackling in her garage in Palo Alto when she got a call from a high-school friend named Andy Hertzfeld, who was a lead software architect for the nascent Macintosh operating system.

Kare mined ideas from everywhere: the history of Asian art, the geeky gadgets and toys that festooned her fellow designers’ cubicles, and the glyphs that Depression-era hobos chalked on walls to point the way to a sympathetic household. The symbol on every Apple command key–a stylized castle seen from above–was commonly used at Swedish campgrounds to denote an interesting sightseeing destination. 

If Susan Kare had started badly, one wonders if Steve Jobs would eventually be able to say, “We made the buttons on the screen look so good you’ll want to lick them.”

For those of you who feel more than grateful for her work –> signed, numbers and limited edition prints of her icons can be purchased here.