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“Micro”, Camden: a classic of computer design

“Micro Security Systems” burglar alarm, Camden • This is a classic piece of retro-futurism – it’s called Micro, and is illustrated with a microchip, that pinnacle of modernity. The typeface is a Letraset classic called Data 70 (the name’s a good clue to its vintage), created by British designer Bob Newman in 1970. It’s one of many such that came out around that time, based on the machine-readable MICR (Magnetic Ink Character Recognition) text you can still find in chequebooks, which despite the banks’ best efforts are still with us. Since their brief moment of trendiness, such “computer fonts” have lived on eternally in the worlds of sci-fi and naffness, though it’s the kind of naffness that graphic designers always retain a fondness for. For any typophiles perusing this, there’s a really interesting thread about the origins of Data 70-style letterforms here. Of more interest to security professionals will be that the Micro lives above an extremely well-preserved vintage AFA sounder, with all the attendant wiring intact – it’s pictured below. • Spotted: New Oxford Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras

6 replies »

  1. Isn’t it a handy switch for the AFA – ‘for the gentleman burglar who does not wish to disturb other residents during a 2am pilferage…’?

  2. Who made those bells?? was it one you had to assemble your own bells/siren? Loving this 70’s theame, wonder if in 40 years time we will look back at the ones we are putting up now with the same fondness.

  3. I was going to say note how the wiring gets worse as the decades go by but I’m not sure whether the Micro bell or the VLD has the worse wiring.

    Loose but fairly straight effort or wonky but fairly tight, which is better? Even the ali from the AFA isn’t great sharing the whole with the mains cabling to the fire switch, probably.

    • Actually, looking at the close up you can;t really help but notice the gaping hole in the side of the VLD so that is worse than anything else on that wall.

      So yes, as I was saying originally, note how the engineers get more and more slack as the decades pass by.

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