That was the time that was. Digit turns 100 bathed in a warm, neon glow that still has the power to wash socks.

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The thing that hits you first is the neon. Slightly faded, sure, but still with the power to conjure up images of washing powder boxes. 
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Get past the sun-aged neon on the cover, and it’s the price of design that really hits home. How on earth did any of us actually afford anything to do with creativity? Apart from pencils and paper, anything else would either have had to have been nicked, or bootlegged. 
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These are the first impressions you take from looking back at issue one of Digit. Normally, I don’t explore Digit in this column. But, for the 100th issue, I’ll make an exception. 
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Back to the neon – or Pantone Orange 021 C. I mention it because it was used extremely heavily in issue one and, like 80s fashions, has dated pretty badly. 
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Unsurprisingly, Digit was a radically different reading experience back then – much like the design touchstones that were being hailed as the future wave. Award-winning pop promos of the time of issue one included Chris Cunningham’s Windowlicker for Aphex Twin, and an oversize dog strolling through New York listening to Daft Punk’s Da Funk. 
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Smirnoff’s Smarienberg commercial was doing The Matrix long before anyone took the red pill. Interactive CD design, such as Spin’s work for Diesel, was to set the pace before online and viral design took the digital centre stage. 
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Budweiser’s Louie the Lizard was scooping up TV effects awards, while cinematic effects were being snowballed by Digital Domain’s work on Titanic, which used a then-staggering 550 shots. Fast-forward to 2006, and that many shots are now used in an average sci-fi TV episode… 
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It was a terrifically exciting time, though – if only because the bedrock of today’s creativity was being formed. Special effects, digital animation, graphic design – all were starting the surge towards now. 
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And, as it was a time when the US economy in particular was red hot, it lead to more risks and the start of the dotcom boom. Yet, it was also a time when technology and cost were massive barriers to entry. 
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Issue one contained ads for Apple G3 PowerBooks, a snip at £3,399 plus VAT. For this, you got a 250MHz G3 processor and 32MB of RAM. A deskop G3 Mac with similar specs cost around £1,749 plus VAT. You’d also need a 1GB Jaz drive (£189), and a £1,695 copy of NewTek LightWave 3D. 
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Today, you can get astounding power for far less – and it’s been staggering to so far chart this amazing creative revolution. Of course, the past 100 issues aren’t without their technology casualties. 
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Products in issue one included Adobe PageMill 3.0, MetaCreations LogoMotion, Intergraph’s ExtremeZ workstation, Quark mTropolis 2.0, Puffin Design Commotion, and GoLive CyberStudio 3.0 
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Stuff changes. Design evolves, tastes move on, what wowed now bores. That, though, is what makes the creative industry such as genuinely fascinating place to be. 
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It’s a landscape that gets repainted each issue, and we look forward to serving you in the future and helping you find your own path in everything creative. 
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