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).

1 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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s