Design By Numbers in 2017

Yesterday I was teaching coding to a class of high school students in Miami, and realized that it might be useful to show them DBN (aka “Design By Numbers”).

I wasn’t sure if I could resurrect it, but … OMG it still works.

  1. Just download this zip file: dbn-3.0.1 in 2017 to your computer.
  2. Make sure you have Java installed and ready to go.
  3. Download the JDK here as the first link.
  4. Use a terminal window and “cd” to the directory.
  5. Type “java -classpath classes DbnApplication”

And then the following should all become possible on your computer screen:

Related to this project, in the early 90s I created a lifesized model of a working computer in Nara, Japan with Nobuyuki Ueda and Masahiko Furukata called “The Human Powered Computer Experiment”:


For more information on Design By Numbers, please refer to the original Design By Numbers site. There’s also a book I designed and wrote in 1999 that is still available on Amazon in used form:

DBN didn’t have a long life, but it served a higher purpose of feeding ideas into systems like Processing (I’m so proud of Casey and Ben), Arduino (the early “play” interface was inherited), and Scratch (the “forever” command etc).

One comment

  1. Glad the trip back to the 90s wasn’t too JAR-ring.

    I was thrilled to co-teach in the moment with you. Fun! Grateful for the meaningful history lesson for the high school group and me, too, about MIT professors who started the Media Lab as a movement toward peace following work on nuclear bombs in WWII.

    Liked by 1 person

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