who designed the standby icon?
February 29, 2004 1:40 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone know the name of the person that designed the "standby" icon we see everywhere? (Look at the power button of your computer).

I've been wondering this for a while, and posted something to my site about it. Someone mentioned in the comments for this post that Don Norman might know something, so I emailed him, and amazingly, he replied.

He said that it was the standard ISO icon for a button that doesn't completely shut the power off to an item, but didn't have any information on who exactly designed the icon itself.

I would have asked earlier, but this all occurred during the time when Metafilter was down. Does anyone have an idea?
posted by theNonsuch to Grab Bag (6 answers total)
1 is on, 0 is off and 1 half inside an 0 is standby.
posted by andrew cooke at 1:45 PM on February 29, 2004

I thought it was a 1 halfway inside a 0 because the same button turned things on and off, rather than like rocker-style switches with 1 and 0 separate from each other. I've seen dedicated standby buttons on computers that use a picture of a crescent moon. In these days of programmable soft power buttons, standby, hibernation, and sleep modes, the difference between on and off is an increasingly blurring line.
posted by zsazsa at 2:54 PM on February 29, 2004

Okay, after reading Don Norman's article, my assumption was partially wrong. A vertical line completey enclosed by a circle is a pushbutton hard-power button, while the broken circle/line is for soft power.
posted by zsazsa at 3:05 PM on February 29, 2004

theNoneSuch, I couldn't find the answer to your question, except that it's more likely an anonymous committee of the ISO than a specific individual.

I did find that a US government working committee from Lawrence Berkeley National Labs is, in the interest of ultimately saving energy through human-factors engineering allowing more efficient equipment usage, recommending changes in that and other symbology. As you've found, currently it's more confusing than it should be, partly because of overloading the function of the power button.

Also, the ISO recently selected Oliver Smoot as president, promoting him (in effect) from the ANSI. Smoot, of course, is the MIT student who was laid end-over-end on the Harvard Bridge to determine its length in Smoots.
posted by dhartung at 12:24 AM on March 1, 2004

So I peer at my laptop power button, and brush a bit of dust off it, turning it off. D-oh!
posted by five fresh fish at 8:42 AM on March 1, 2004

Recommended enjoyment for the smoot measurement is walking over the bridge from Cambridge to Boston late on a clear night, and announcing each marker to the Back Bay in a loud, goofy voice while pronouncing it somewhat like "smooooots." Just FYI.
posted by VulcanMike at 8:42 AM on March 1, 2004 [1 favorite]

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