Interesting story of emergence of keyboard art
Dr. Lalit Kishore | 01 Sep 2013

Computer keyboard art has descended from the visual art that started in 1867 as a recreational activity by the typists using manual typewriters during their free time.

  One of the oldest examples of typewriter art is a picture of a butterfly made in 1898 by Flora Stacey. The typewriter art was used in the plot of a short film in 1954. With the advent of commuters, the keyboard art has emerged as a distinct field of visual art called ASCII art. 

ASCII art is also called the text based visual art. It is a well established graphic design technique that uses computers for presentation and consists of pictures pieced together from the printable characters defined in 1963. ASCII art was often used in early e-mail when images could not be embedded. 

One of the main reasons ASCII art was born was because early printers often lacked graphics ability and thus characters were used in place of graphic marks. Also, bulk printers often used ASCII art to print large banners. 

In the first half of 1980s, the limitations of computers of that time period necessitated the use of text characters to represent images. Along with ASCII's use in communication, however, it also began to appear in online art groups of that time. Even, ASCII web-comic which uses ASCII text to create images with the dialog usually placed underneath the keyboard visuals were also popular. 

ASCII art can be created with any text editor these days. It is often used with free-form languages and a fixed-width font such as Courier for presentation. Different techniques could be used in ASCII art to obtain different artistic effects. 

The keyboard line art can be used for creating shapes; keyboard Solid art can used for creating filled objects; and for shading one can use various symbols with different intensities for creating gradients or contrasts. Various combinations of the foregoing can be used to create keyboard art.


The inset visual art is a good example of a simple creation using the computer keyboard. It depicts a hut and tree and the rain falling on them. The beginners generally create flowers, heart shape, hut, fish, cat, etc. to create such art pieces.