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The Art of the Instruction Manual

 by Bennett Gordon


Tags: Media, Science and Technology, computers, manual, technical writing, Ironic Sans, Bennett Gordon,

Franklin ComputerInstead of filling their instruction manuals with incomprehensible computer-speak, the makers of the Franklin Ace 100 and Ace 1000 decided to have fun. The computers—released in the early 1980s—were knockoffs of the Apple II. The manuals, on the other hand, were completely original and now represent fascinating cultural documents. Two of the manuals that were unearthed on the blog Ironic Sans are filled with pop culture references to Hill Street Blues, The Dukes of Hazzard, and former Good Morning America host David Hartman, who is described as “nothing but reconfigured electronic signals [you watch] over coffee in the morning.” The manual also has this prescient and funny paragraph designed to warn its patrons:

Be forewarned that somewhere, sometime, someplace, some enterprising young man who seems to know ten times what you do about computers is going to try to convince you that his program will make a jug of cider jump off the table and turn ducks’ eggs into solid gold. Look this man straight in the eye and ask for names of people who are successfully using his program. DO NOT, under any circumstances, bet him he can’t do it. There’s no telling what someone might be able to make a computer do.

Source: Ironic Sans

Image by Marcin Wichary, licensed under Creative Commons.