“The Control Panel Archive”: The Tactile Beauty Of Buttons, Meters, Knobs And Dials

U.S. Army audiovisual technician stands at her videotape editing station, 1973

If you’re like me, you’ve once or twice seen the near future in the form of Spielberg’s action-packed take on Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report. Not precogs, precrime, or pre-arrests, so much, nor the ubiquitous floating ads, but the scenes in which Tom Cruise’s character controls his tech by speaking to it and waving his hands in the air, doing a sort of interpretive dance in which voice and body take the place of primitive interfaces.

Control panels engage all the senses, become objects of fascination—like this stunningly-photographed abandoned thermal power plant in Hungary—long after they’ve outlived their usefulness. Will the control panel disappear? No, though I suspect touchscreens will take over, replacing the lovely banks of buttons in power plants and other industrial centers.

h/t: flashbak, control-panel, boingboing

The abandoned control panel of a thermal power plant in Kelenföld, Hungary

Andreas S

Space Center, Houston

Mission Control at Disney World’s Tomorrowland

IBM 360 Mainframe and check reading system, 1964

EMS VCS3 Putney

Formula 1 steering wheel (each one is tailored to its specific driver)

Hydroelectric station control center in Itaipu, Brazil

Electronic Music Studios, circa 1970

Longwave transmitter Europe 1, Germany

The Office Of The Future – New York World’s Fair, 1964

Volcanic Museum, César Manrique, Lanzarote Island, 1966-1968

CERN, Electricity control room, 1970

1981 Mazda Cosmo

Citroën Karin, 1980

Kyoto hotel room, Japan

1990 Pontiac Sunfire Concept Car

Reel-to-reel tape recorder

Revox B215 tape deck

Subaru XT, 80s

IBM 702 Machine, 1955


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