Image Content Origins of Wayfinding Pictograms from the 1960s and 1970s
Wayfinding pictograms are sometimes seen as “words” of a “visual language.” This research investigates for 52 common referents in which organizations and domains these words originated. This research is on the pioneer period of wayfinding pictogram development, 1963–1974, using a set of 24 pictogram systems. The results shows that the image contents of most common pictograms that we use today were introduced in only three years’ time by transport organizations. Olympic events and world exhibitions played a minor role in this process. Known designers probably focused more on improving the visual perception and consistency of a pictogram set. A comparison of image contents of pictogram systems from 1963–1974 with two more recent systems suggests there has hardly been any evolution in contents since.