Aesthedes 2 graphic designer's work station
UvA Computer Museum catalogue nr 05.01
The Aesthedes "Aesthetical Design" system was designed and manufactured from 1982 by the Dutch company of Claessens Product Consultants. It is a stand-alone system for computer-aided graphical and typographical (hence essentially 2D) design. The machine's output can be sent to a plotter (drawing or cutting), a printer, a camera recorder and similar peripherals.
Despite its high price - 300.000 to 400.000 Dutch guilders, the cost of 30 middleclass cars - the Aesthedes has been sold worldwide, causing a revolution in designing advertisements, stamps, banknotes, flags, t-shirts, packaging labels and much more. Even the machine's own desk was designed on the Aesthedes.
The large desk is covered with membrane-switch keys and a graphics tablet. The intention was to enable the designer to be creative without the need of any programming work.
In 1989 the Aesthedes company was acquired by Barco (Belgium). The production of new machines ended not much later, when the market was already taken over Apple. Many Aesthedes machines were kept in service until the turn of the century.
Our Aesthedes 2 (1989) had the following characteristics:
- 2 Motorola MC68020 processors, 4 Thomson EF9365 graphic display processors
- 1.9 MB RAM, 2.4 Mb graphic memory (64 levels)
- Two 385 MB hard disks, two diskette stations (3.5" and 5.25")
- Microware OS-9 operating system in ROM (normally not visible to the designer/operator)
- three 12" data displays
- three 20" Barco colour monitors (RGB, 512*512 pixels)
- weight, without colour monitors, 220 kg
- 512*512 pixels in frame buffer
As an option. a Macintosh computer could be ordered with the Aesthedes 2, together with the necessary interface cabling and communication software. Ultimately, the Macintosh would make its Aesthedes host obsolete, as it became apparent that most of the work could be done on the Mac (using packages like Photoshop, Pagemaker, Illustrator), and that replacement of a single board in the Aesthedes would cost about the same as a complete Macintosh.
The Aesthedes 2 was donated in 2005 by the Museum of Modern Typography 'De Beijerd', Breda, The Netherlands.
In the mean time we have found that the machine is technically mostly ok, but operating it is virtually impossible because the software is protected by long forgotten passwords. As far as we know all sources have been discarded after the company's shutdown.
Many thanks to Hans (C.J.) van de Berg, a former Aesthedes engineer, for his help in this project. Hans also provided lots of additional technical data, manuals and spare parts.
The picture was taken from a sales data sheet.
rev. January, 2017