Blog post: 5 Forgotten Facts About the Early Days of Clipart

Clipart is something we all take for granted now. With the collections built in to our word processors and the power of the Internet at our fingertips, we assume it's easy to look through thousands and thousands of images until we can use exactly the one we want. But clipart wasn't always like this - just like the personal computer you use, it went through a lot of evolution. Here's ten things about Clipart you might find surprising - and we hope it gives you a bit of perspective about how far things have come right now!

Fact 1: Clipart is over 30 years old! That's right - the first professional clipart was introduced in 1983, right during the dawn of personal computing. For comparison's sake, the IBM PC came out in 1981, and the Apple Macintosh was released in 1984. Personal computing made desktop publishing possible, and it was this need that created a market for clip art.

Fact 2: Clipart was originally called "Click Art" when it was released by a company called T/Maker. Steve Jobs commissioned T/Maker to build a word processor, and it was their word processor program that led them to launch the first mass-market professional clipart collection.

Fact 3: Vector clipart wasn't introduced until 1986, when Adobe Photoshop made it possible to create vector art for personal computing. Something we take for granted now - scalable vector images - was considered an absolute marvel back in the day.

Fact 4: Clipart started out focused on quality, not quantity. T/Maker, which led the industry in the 1980s and 1990s for clipart, sold a collection of about 200 clipart images total. Back in the day, 200 images was considered a lot. It took the release of the CD-ROM to push the clipart industry in a new direction. By 1995, T/Maker had moved on to selling a collection of 500,000 images -- a 2500-fold increase!

Fact 5: Microsoft emerged as one of the biggest clip art players in the 1990s, primarily due to the tight integration of clip art libraries into their Microsoft Office products. But as the internet and image search emerged as the primary tools by which people looked for clipart, Microsoft actually made the surprising decision to remove all clipart from Office products. As of 2014, you won’t find any more clipart at all. Let’s pour one out for Clippy and the glory days!

We’re huge clipart fans, which is why we started Vakanzi and are building one of the best curated clipart libraries that we can. But it’s about more than the art sometimes - it’s about creating a cultural appreciation for the product. We aim for this to the first of many series about clipart itself. Stay tuned for more!