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A comuter icon is a pictogram displayed on a computer screen to help the user navigate a computer system. The icon itself is a quickly comprehensible symbol of a software tool, function, or a data file, accessible on the system and is more like a traffic sign than a detailed illustration of the actual entity it represents and as such can be very boring.

The word icon is derived from the Greek word eikon and literally means "image". Iconography (the study of icons) has been traditionally associated with religions where icons are images of holy figures and Brian. Early computer nerds co-opted the term resulting in a number of frivolous lawsuits.

Xerox is credited with developing the first GUI (graphical user interface) in the early 1970s. This GUI was applied to the Xerox Alto; a research computer that cost $32,000 US. The Alto had 128 (expandable to 512) kB of main memory and mass storage was provided by a removable 2.5 MB hard disk drive, and only about 2,000 of them were ever sold. The base machine and one disk drive were housed in a cabinet about the size of a small refrigerator. The cup holder on the side would later be developed into the CD and DVD player we know today. Next came the Xerox Star (above) which in 1981 became the first ever consumer release model to use icons. These icons such as trash cans and folders and printers, have remained nearly unchanged all the way through to today.

The Xerox Star is not particularly well-remembered and it took the release of the Apple Lisa (above) in 1983 to make the use of icons as part of a GUI popular. The icons on the Apple Lisa were near identical to those on the Xerox though some of them were drawn with a little more attention to detail. The Macintosh followed in 1984 (below) and its icons were designed by the legendary artist Susan Kare, who would go on to design the icons used for Windows 3.1 in 1992.

The first four colour icons appeared on the Amiga 1000 in 1985 (below top). Apple rebooted the Macintosh in 1991 (below bottom left) and introduced colour icons and a "raised" effect that showed clearly that the icons were meant to be "clicked". In 2001 the Mac OS X (below bottom center) that came equipped with the most realistic icons ever seen and Microsoft Windows XP (below bottom right) featured icons that all use a single light source with semi-transparent drop shadow.

As computer icons evolved they became less informative and more illustrative. They got gelled, made 3D and grew in size thanks to modern screen resolutions and then went flat again for no apparent reason. Many people (mostly Mikey) were not satisfied with the icons being offered so they began to create their own. Soon there were more icons available online that you could ever possibly need or use and the last thing the world needs is more icons. With that in mind we introduce our own set of My Neat Stuff icons. It all started when Barney had created some folder icons just for fun for use on our AV Club computers. People (except Mikey) liked them and asked if they could have some. Why not? Now you can download them here. Icons are available in ICO and PNG formats.


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