Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Nostalgia – I see your emoticon and raise you proper ASCII art

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-05-29

For those gen-X/gen-Y types who get all “you-retro” to us phone-o-phobic baby-boomers…

It was us old farts who invented your SMS-lish, because back in the olde days, using chat(1) between the US and Oz on usenet was so slow you’d type a sentence and make a coffee before your last word would appear…. hence abbreviations like "rotflol" and "bbfn".

Ditto with emoticons…. and if you want to see ASCII art that rocks, have a look at this page from the jargon file." I doubt you youngies will be sending "Bee in a carrot patch" or "Dunedin Railway Station" (see below the fold) over your phone, but you might copy down the ASCII-art Bart Simpson.

  |      |   
  |      |    
  | (o)(o) 
  C      _)
  | ,___|
  |   / 
/      \ 

But the best example of extreme ASCII artwork is probably the ASCII Art Animated "Star Wars".  Mind you, that’s all been hand-crafted, rather than using one of the ASCII-art output filters available in the Unix multimedia player "mplayer" or GIMP (providing you’ve got a version with libaa options on).

Unfortunately I don’t have it, but back when connexions from home to machine at uni to internet were character-mode-only (i.e. telnet), there were magnificent Xmas cards showing trees with flashing lights, a sleigh flying through the air – all done with ASCII art and VT52/VT100 escape sequences (I knew pretty much all of the VT52 sequences off by heart).

Mind you, perhaps the most famous bit of ASCII art was from the early 1970s line-printer days (perhaps even the 1960s), and politically incorrect.  On 132-column wide fan-folded paper, taking about 6 feet of printout, there was a depiction of a nude woman leaning up against a stool.  It would be found in many different machine rooms, typically next to the "Blinkenleitz Poster.

So here, in glorious ASCII (providing your browser puts the following into fixed-width font) is the Dunedin Railway Station in NZ:

                                 / I \
                              JL/  |  \JL
   .-.                    i   ()   |   ()   i                    .-.
   |_|     .^.           /_\  LJ=======LJ  /_\           .^.     |_|
._/___\._./___\_._._._._.L_J_/.-.     .-.\_L_J._._._._._/___\._./___\._._._
       ., |-,-| .,       L_J  |_| [I] |_|  L_J       ., |-,-| .,        ., 
       JL |-O-| JL       L_J%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%L_J       JL |-O-| JL        JL 
 _/\_  ||\\_I_//||  _/\_ [_] []_/_L_J_\_[] [_] _/\_  ||\\_I_//||  _/\_  ||\
 |__|  ||=/_|_\=||  |__|_|_|   _L_L_J_J_   |_|_|__|  ||=/_|_\=||  |__|  ||-
 |__|  |||__|__|||  |__[___]__--__===__--__[___]__|  |||__|__|||  |__|  |||
 \_I_/ [_]\_I_/[_] \_I_[_]\II/[]\_\I/_/[]\II/[_]\_I_/ [_]\_I_/[_] \_I_/ [_]
./   \.L_J/   \L_J./   L_JI  I[]/     \[]I  IL_J    \.L_J/   \L_J./   \.L_J
|     |L_J|   |L_J|    L_J|  |[]|     |[]|  |L_J     |L_J|   |L_J|     |L_J
|_____JL_JL___JL_JL____|-||  |[]|     |[]|  ||-|_____JL_JL___JL_JL_____JL_J


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