Origami Sightings - Computers (Part 2)

Compiled by Janet Hamilton

On page 39 of the Adobe Studios "Essentials" newsletter, they mention an Adobe Font called "Origami" (tm) - "In spite of its angular appearance, Origami is composed almost exclusively of curves. Designer Carl Crossgrove derived the typeface from experiments in designing a low resolution type. The resulting face is reminiscent of Eastern European expressionist designers such as Oldrich Menhart and Vojtech Preissig. It is paired with an equally angular chancery italic. Origami works effectively for short blocks of text or at display sizes, while the capitals are especially suitable for titles." See it here: http://www.adobe.com/type/browser/P/P_472.jhtml .
Origami Regular

In the Feb or March 1998 issue of "Computing Life" magazine, Jeff Greenwald writes of his ten-day lockup with his web browser as his only connection to the outside world. At the end of the article, he lists his twenty favorite web sites: Joseph Wu's Origami Page is number 6 or 7 on the list.

"President's Choice Magazine" is owned by Loblaws, a grocery giant in Canada. The first issue was dated March 1998. On page 28 of that issue, under the heading "This just in", is a box labeled "Digital Origami", with an origami crane illustrating it, and brief history of origami. "More than a millennium since the first origami designs, instructions, suppliers, and information are still passed on - from home page to browser." The four sites listed are:
http://www.origami.vancouver.bc.ca (our very own Joseph)
http://www.jade.dti.ne.jp/~hatori/ (Koshiro's Animated Origami)
http://origami.gr.jp/ (Origami Tanteidan)
http://www.the-village.com/origami/index.html (Alex Barber's web site)

On the back cover of the March/April 1998 Volume 7, Number 2 issue of Microsoft Developer Network News there is a picture of Kevin Marzek with the following bio: "When not actively hunting for the perfect beer, Kevin Marzec is most likely studying the ancient lost art of full-contact origami."

In the June 1998 issue of "Desktop Journal (A Realistic Approach to Computers and Communications)" is a section entitled "Internet Hot Spots", with this article:

This cool ensemble of currency-as-sculpture includes spiders, eyeglasses, sailboats, and framed portraits. In a kind gesture of goodwill, the site's designer also includes detailed instructions and clear photographs on how to create these magnificent objects d'art at home. Don't miss the slew of money-related links too. http://members.cox.net/crandall11/money/

The November 1998 issue of the UK computer and video games magazine, "Edge", carried a column in the "develop" section (page 91) recruiting staff for a startup computer games company. Denis Hassabis recounts the interview of candidate Joe McDonagh, who listed origami and boxing as his interests:
"But after only narrowly beating him in a race to make the classic origami model, the crane, I wisely decided against testing out his boxing skills... Clearly he was crazy (after all, what sort of man comes to a job interview armed with origami papers in his wallet)."

The "Adobe Magazine", Vol. 10, Number 1, Winter 1999 issue has a paper jet on the cover. Inside it describes how the plane was photographed and turned into cover art. There's also an interesting article on creating tessellations starting on page 43.

The "Adobe Illustrator Visual Quickstart Guide" has, scattered throughout the book, flapping birds, pinwheels etc.

Microsoft Word from the Office 97 package includes clip-art of several origami figures in the "animals" section.

Microsoft Office 97 has a little feature called Office Assistant - sort of an animated cartoon help box that sits in the corner of the screen. You can choose the character you want in the box and one of them is a cat made out of pieces of paper. If you click on the animate button (right-mouse click on the assistant to get it) the cat (named Scribble) comes apart and folds itself into various origami models. The paper cat breaks up into 3 triangles of ruled paper and folds into a swan, unfolds and folds into an elephant, unfolds and folds into a frog, and finally unfolds and reassembles the paper cat.

Microsoft Publisher from Office 2000 includes templates and instructions for paper airplanes and a few origami models: boat, crane, cup and parrot. You can color and decorate them, print them out, and then fold them.

The Microsoft Animated GIF Editor contains a sample animation of a letter that is folded into a paper airplane, which then flies around.

Corel included a selection of clipart with Corel WordPerfect Suite 6.1 for Windows 3.x or above.  In the Asia directory on the clipart CD-ROM there is a file called ORIZURU.WPG that is a picture of a origami crane in purple paper.

A Java book (exact title unknown, possibly from Sun's Java series) had a very basic program for drawing origami diagrams as an example of java programming.

Lockergnome 10/04/2000, GnomeCandy section:

Paper Airplane Factory v1.01 [938k] W9x US$14
{Design your own flying sheet} Eskimos have several words for snow. I mention this only because I find it amazing how something so simple and basic can lend itself to so many interpretations. Take the paper airplane, for example (nice segue, huh?). Most of us know one or two ways to fold a paper airplane, and about four dozen ways to get in trouble with it. Come on... what good is creating a paper airplane without having someone to throw it at? Fly out of the danger zone with this downloadable gem, which includes illustrated (and animated) instructions on how to build all kinds of paper airplanes. It even comes with an entire library of patterns and decals so you can personalize your fabricated machine.

b.i.t.s is an IT consulting firm based in Pakistan with an origami-themed Web site! The folding pattern for a paper plane is shown over the words “Strategy   Creativity – Technology – Branding”, then an animated graphic shows the plane taking off. http://www.bitsonline.net If you click on eLearning on the left, you'll see that they will be adding an "Experience eLearning" section focused on origami, and more specifically, Cranes for Peace.

At the annual ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) conference in Los Angeles in August 2001, there was an exhibit called the "Origami Desk" in the emerging technologies gallery. The desk consisted of a white surface about two-and-a-half feet by two feet with three areas: a space in the middle for paper, a spot in the upper right for videos of a pair of disembodied hands folding, and a menu of steps up at the top. Images and control buttons (next, previous, play, replay) are projected onto the desk from overhead. When you push "play", disembodied hands projected on the desk demonstrate the current step. The paper has five sensors stuck on the back, and the desk can sense their orientation and can tell what you've done to the paper. It can't track anything more complex than a preliminary base. http://www.media.mit.edu/~wendyju/origami

A paper from the MIT Artificial Intelligence laboratory called "Robust Engineering Using Biologically-Inspired Models of Cell Differentiation and Morphogensis" by Radhika Nagpal and Gerald Jay Sussman - “The system combines local primitives from epithelial cell morphogenesis and Drosophila cell differentiation, with combination rules from the mathematics of paper folding. The language specifies a folding process on a flexible sheet composed of many identically-programmed agents or “cells”. ... "Just as paper folding is a natural process for shape formation on a sheet, we will need to discover new models to describe shape formation in these new domains." ... "The desired global pattern is described abstractly on a continuous sheet, using a language based on paper-folding (origami) axioms." ... "The same language can be used to describe shapes created by folding a sheet of cells, and themodularity and scaling concepts apply to shape formation as well."

The AOL 8.0 Instant Messenger box wallpaper called classic art has cranes in the background.

A font called “Origami Mommy” http://www.1001fonts.com/font_details.html?font_id=1837
Origami Mommy Preview

A font called “Origami” http://www.fonts.com/findfonts/detail.asp?pid=401165

The eCrush site uses cootie catcher applet to help you determine if your crush is true love: http://www.ecrush.com/cootiecatcher/index.phtml .

The website for the media design company Fantasmagoria has an animation of a software box that opens allowing a folded paper airplane to pop out of the top and hover over the box. http://www.fantasmagoria.com/site_2002/main_launcher.html

Robbie Williams' website at http://www.bysm.co.uk/bysm.asp has an origami airplane whizzing around.

CBC Radio 3 has produced a very ambitious web magazine. The1/10/2003 (Volume 1, Issue 7) issue features an interview with Joseph Wu. It includes photos, text and audio. A fast Internet connection is recommended, and you will need to be using a browser with the Flash plug-in. The URL is http://www.cbcr3.com.

Glider PRO (Mac OS X) and Glider 4.0 (Windows) is a computer game in which you control a small paper glider through houses, meadows, skies, sewers, and hundreds of other places. Obstacles include popping toast, furniture, enemy planes, ventilation and air conditioning systems, table fans, candles, switches to operate all these, and more. There are course bonuses: clocks for points, aluminum foil armor, rubber bands as ammo, etc. The game was released by Casady&Greene in 1994, but is now distributed freely by the author, John Calhoun. It has a very good replay value, because it features a powerful level editor that allows the addition of custom graphics, so you can build train stations, space stations, ships, treehouses, cloud worlds, or about everything you can imagine. Levels are usually referred to as "houses", because that's the standard background for your quest. There are hundreds of custom houses available. http://homepage.mac.com/calhoun/ and http://www.geocities.com/omegatransfinito/ 

The magazine Infosystems (9/1980), had two 2-page center-fold style origami ads. The advertiser was Hammermill Paper. One was an SST airplane, and the other was a racer, which looks like a Bugatti, with octagonal wheels and a spoiler.

A paper crane was used for demonstrating a 3d viewer on the Palm Pilot http://www.freewarepalm.com/graphics/3dvew.shtml
3DViewer.gif (5379 バイト)

The book "InDesign Classroom" on the Adobe desktop publishing program InDesign, uses origami as the theme for many of its chapters. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0201787202/qid=1062713752/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_1/102-0196182-1856957?v=glance&s=books&n=507846  http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0201787202/ref=lib_rd_ss_TT01/102-0196182-1856957?v=glance&s=books&vi=reader&img=9#reader-link

Reported 7/2004 - The new Spider-man 2 video game has a funny origami reference.  New Yorkers walking the street can be overheard talking and one of them can be heard to say, "Note to self: Buy origami paper." I wonder if they checked the origami sources list (http://origamisources.sxpress.com) to find good places to shop for origami supplies in NYC?

An advertisement for Yahoo Geocities website hosting includes a flash animated paper that folds into a crane. The text starts out saying "Bend the limits", the ends after the animation plays with a link to a site for more information with the text "use your new wings". http://us.a1.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/a/ya/yahoo_geocities/crane_lrec_v4.swf 

Origami On the Go v1.0, freeware for Palm OS 5.0, was released December 24, 2004.  This first version shows how to make a square from a piece of paper and how to fold the traditional origami crane. http://www.freewarepalm.com/hobbies/origamionthego.shtml 

Computerworld runs a column called "Shark Tank" which prints humorous stories from the tech support front lines. The May 9, 2005 column included the following: "My new keyboard suddenly stopped working, user tells pilot fish. What kind is it? fish asks. "She responded, 'I don't know what brand, but it's origami,'" says fish. "It took me about five minutes to figure out what she was talking about - she meant ergonomic. After I managed to stop laughing, she asked me, 'So, do you know anything about organic keyboards?' " http://www.computerworld.com/departments/opinions/sharktank/0,4885,101583,00.html 

In a project code-named "Origami", Microsoft developed specifications for an ultra-mobile PC designed to be about half the size of a conventional laptop or table. The devices are being made be Samsung and Asus and will allow mobile connectivity, access to email, gaming, mobile multi-media, and navigation. http://www.origamiproject.com  http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/umpc/default.mspx 

From the Anu Garg's Wordsmith.org website for 4/18/2006:
"This week's theme: words about books.
orihon (OR-ee-hon) noun
A book or manuscript folded like an accordion: a roll of paper inscribed on one side only, folded backwards and forwards.
[From Japanese, ori (fold), + hon (book).]
Here's a picture of an orihon. The word origami is from the same root, from Japanese ori (fold) + -gami, kami (paper), the art of paper folding that can coax a whole menagerie from a few sheets of paper.
-Anu Garg (gargATwordsmith.org)
"He created an orihon binding -- an accordion-style technique that allowed the book to expand to more than 60 feet." Veronica Chestnut; Digital Printing at Harvard; Electronic Publishing, Jul 1997." http://wordsmith.org/words/orihon.html 

A blog describing how origami was used to create a small, well-contained spacer that makes the "click" action on the Apple MacBook trackpad a bit crisper.  The writer uses a strip of paper to fold the base of a Puffy Star, without (leaving it a regular pentagon shape), then placing inside the machine underneath the trackpad. http://ibloggedthis.com/2006/06/29/an-origami-solution-to-the-apple-macbook-trackpad-squishy-button-problem/ 

August 31, 2006 in The Independent (UK) "Forget the map and just pass me that flat-screen" By Barrie Clement. "The days when tourists and walkers had to be experts in origami to find out where they were are fast disappearing. These days, an aptitude for new technology is far more useful than a talent for folding and unfolding maps. And developments in electronics mean that "getting lost" could be a thing of the past." http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/this_britain/article1222833.ece 

Web site 43Things.com lets people lists things they would like to do or learn, and matches them up with others. Learning origami is apparently a popular wish.

October 22, 2006, an article in the Washington Post talks about memory card problems: "Another possibility is the design of the card itself. SanDisk's Ultra II Plus SD Cards plug directly into a computer's USB port, thanks to a nifty, fold-open design that exposes a tiny plug. But this feat of electronic origami doesn't meet the letter of the USB standard, said Jim Choate, an Intel engineer who helps lead the trade group behind those specifications." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/21/AR2006102100108.html 

An online lesson on using frames in Adobe InDesign CS states, "In this self-paced lesson, you'll work on a two-page article for a magazine about origami paper folding. In the process, you'll learn how to use Adobe InDesign CS to resize and reshape text and graphic frames, crop graphics, scale an image contained in a graphics frame, wrap text around an object, and more. http://www.informit.com/articles/article.asp?p=600968&rl=1 

The MIT homepage on 11/9/06 featured a work by Brian Chan called "Mens et Manus" (Latin for "mind and hand", MIT's motto.) http://web.mit.edu/ 

Fujitsu has is showing a concept machine that is a folding laptop. Half opened there is a screen and gaming keys and a fingerprint reader for securtity. Unfolding the next step provides a full size keyboard with touchpad. The screen, however, is half the size of the keyboard. http://www.t3.co.uk/news/247/general/general/folding_laptop_filmed

An HP project to make an "origami inspired" custom calendar: http://h10050.www1.hp.com/activitycenter/us/en/maker/date_keeper_2007.html 

12/21/06 Information Week article titled "Microsoft Wins Hands-Down for Most Disappointing Product of 2006" by Mitch Wagner: 'If there were an award for the most disappointing product of the year, the "Origami" would certainly top the list. This was a hugely hyped product in the first quarter of the year, but when it finally came out, you could almost hear the entire computer-using community breathe a puzzled, "Huh?" Our own Andy Dornan wrote a caustic blog post in March, comparing it to Bob -- Microsoft's cutesie-poo 1995 attempt at a non-threatening Windows user interface -- and said, "The most interesting thing about Origami is how Microsoft manipulated bloggers and journalists into hyping it. Far from the Transformer gadget hinted at (Eight toys in one! Changes from iPod to camcorder to computer and back!), the device is just a small Tablet PC." ' The Origami Project has spawned the group of devices now known as Ultra-Mobile PCs (UMPCs) and are sized between a PDA and a tablet. http://www.informationweek.com/blog/main/archives/2006/12/microsoft_wins.html 

Origami Experience is the name of the new program launcher that Microsoft is prepping for Vista-based UMPCs (Ultra-Mobile PCs) and Tablets. It  provides a fresh new way to access applications, and browse and play media in an all-inclusive environment. It is reported to be speedy, intuitive and helpful, with convenient menus, easy customization and easy operation.

The website for Capital Corporate Communications starts with a sheet of blue paper that says "We shape ideas". When you slick enter, the paper folds into a plane and flies to join a number of other models that stand for sections of the website. The models include a dinosaur ("About us"), a crane variation ("Case studies"), a boat ("Clients"), and a crumpled wad, aka origami boulder ("If at first you don't succeed"). The models unfold and refold as you move back and forth between pages on the website. http://www.capitalcomm.com.my/ 

DS Origami for the Nintendo DS (release date August 2007) takes you step-by-step through over a hundred different origami patterns that consist of things like a wedding dress, a goldfish, a hamster and a penguin. The top screen is used to show players where to make folds in their paper, and the touchscreen is reserved for the videos, which can be paused, rewound or what-have-you at the touch of a stylus.

July 2007 - An ad from Autodesk, maker of AutoCAD and other software products, was meant to emphasize the importance of saving mouse clicks with their on-line e-learning tools. They sent out 5 pieces of Origami paper with “Autodesk Subscription” repeatedly printed on the color side. The rectangular papers had a square color section, and the extra paper had instructions on how to fold the paper into a simple mouse. 

Over at Coroflot's Creative Seeds blog, Dan Buchner, VP of Design and Innovation at Continuum, shares the three things you need to do in a design job interview. "Most design firms receive hundreds of portfolios a month. The best firms get even more. To avoid being clumped (and possibly overlooked) with similar applicant (with similar capabilities), think deeply about what it is that differentiates you as a designer--and as a person--from others in the portfolio pile. But standing out does not mean sending a portfolio that's molded into the shape of an origami swan or delivered by carrier pigeon. It means contextualizing your work as part of a larger process, and describing the process of your work in the form of a narrative." http://www.coroflot.com/creativeseeds/2007/08/the_3_things_you_need_to_do_in.asp 

September 4, 2007, Steven Heller wrote "An Inconvenient Truth" on abriefmessage.com on whether print is dead due to the availability of electronic media. The background of the page were two origami dinosaurs about to be made extinct by an incoming origami meteor. http://abriefmessage.com/ 

October 2007 - A facebook site featuring "Hatching Eggs" recently included an egg that hatched two origami cranes.

Daniella Spinat's Folded Paper font - http://daniellaspinat.com/index.html#n_foldedpaper 

Another origami font http://www.tapuz.co.il/tapuzforum/main/Viewmsg.asp?forum=411&msgid=112866749 

February 2008 - BarackObamaIsYourNewBicycle.com pops up random statements such as "Barack Obama baked you a pie," "Barack Obama gave you a puppy" and "Barack Obama folded you an origami crane." The site opened just last week and the domain name is registered to Mathew Honan, 35,  San Francisco-based contributing editor to Wired magazine. He came up with the idea when his wife, an avid cyclist, became active in Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

A new origami folding robot by Kenta Tanaka, Yusuke Kamotani, and Yasuyoshi Yokokohji emulates the functions of a hand, and can even make squash folds. Kenta Tanaka, Yusuke Kamotani, and Yasuyoshi Yokokohji, "Origami Folding by a Robotic Hand," Proc. International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2007), October 29-November 2, San Diego, CA, USA, pp.2540--2547, 2007. There's a video at

May 2008 - Eric Lindstrom, Creative Director for Crystal Dynamics, is currently working on the Tomb Raider Underworld computer game, reports attempting to fold an origami model of all the animals in the game. ""I don’t invent models, I only use existing patterns, but because there are creatures in Underworld that we’ve invented, I’ll have to start improvising soon." http://www.tombraiderchronicles.com:80/headlines3447.html 

The logo for Valgrind, an open source tool for detecting memory usage issues in computer programs, is an origami knight on horseback fighting an origami dragon. http://valgrind.org/ 

An online game on Disney's Club Penguin site has origami boats in the game. http://www.clubpenguin.com/ 

November 2008 - "ASUS turns PC into origami art" The ASUS Vento TA-F series foldable PC chassis collapses into a compact flat shape that takes up a mere 70 percent of its original space.  http://asia.cnet.com/crave/2008/11/03/asus-turns-pc-into-origami-art/ 

December 2008 - Fighting character Jax from the game Mortal Kombat II 32X has a friendship move that can be used to make peace with an opponent. Jax's Friendship move is to create origami.

December 2008 - a Flash Season's Greeting from Oracle Corp. features hands folding a paper that turns into a bird, which flys into a forest populated with origami deer and rabbits. http://www.oracle.com:80/greeting_cards/swf/ecard5_english.html 

January 2009 - Asus presented an "Origami" folding laptop at the Consumer Electronics Show with a case that can fold all the way down to lay flat. When two displays are placed back-to-back or stacked one on top of the other, the displays combine into one as the laptops communicate with each other wirelessly. The partially transparent touch-screens allow images on one to remain visible on the other and users can interact with both.

January 2009 - Handmade keyboards featuring washi print patterns. http://www.geekstuff4u.com/ 

January 2009 - The IBM web site has a banner that starts off wit a background of pieces of colored paper, then transforms into several folded cranes with text that indicates IBM helps collect and analyze information. The cranes thus represent a better organization of the paper!

An iPhone app called Cute Origami ($3) includes 12 demonstration videos intended to show how to complete origami models such as a crane, mouse, sailboat, maple leaf and a dog.

April 2009 - A set of origami icons for Mac or PC by Song Speckels http://www.pixelgirlpresents.com:80/icons.php?page=15&cat=mac http://www.illustration4hire.com/extras.html 

April 2009 - The RonyaSoft company has announced the release of their freeware CD DVD Label Maker. The software allow creation of CD and DVD disk covers, as well as folded paper origami cases, which saves storage space over plastic cases and is more environmentally friendly. http://www.ronyasoft.com/products/cd-dvd-label-maker/ 

July 10, 2009 GeekDad Anton Olsen lists 100 essential skills for Geeks. Number 55: "Origami! Bonus point for duct tape origami. (Ductigami)". http://www.wired.com:80/geekdad/2009/07/100-basic-geek-skills-for-geeks/ 

July 2009 - An Back-to-School 2009 ad for HP laptops includes drawings of paper planes among the other icons that relate to school - calculators, science lab equipment, a paintbrush, letters of the alphabet. Not sure what class they team paper plane making in though... http://p.p0.com/YesConnect/ShareThis?a=XhdCVWSEHzsHZHMW7hV 

Kensington's "TwoFold Stand and Sleeve" is a laptop slipcase that protects your laptop in transit, the folds to serve as a stand to protect your lap from the heat of the machine and provide a more ergonomic viewing angle. http://us.kensington.com/html/17493.html 

The company is researching ways in which DNA can arrange itself into patterns on the surface of a chip, and then act as a kind of scaffolding on to which millions of tiny carbon nanotubes and nanoparticles are deposited. That network of nanotubes and nanoparticles could act as the wires and transistors on future computer chips, the IBM scientists said.


For decades chip makers have been etching smaller and smaller patterns onto the surface of chips to speed performance and reduce power consumption. The fastest PC chips today are manufactured using a 45 nanometer process, but as the process dips below 22 nanometers in a few years, the assembly and fabrication of chips becomes far more difficult and expensive, said Bob Allen senior manager of chemistry and materials at IBM Research.

The new technique builds on work done several years ago by Paul Rothmund, a scientist at the California Institute of Technology, who figured out that DNA molecules can be made to "self-assemble" into tiny forms such as triangles, squares and stars. The approach takes advantage of DNA's natural ability to incorporate large amounts of complex information that can be applied to different types of activities.

To make a chip, the scientists first create lithographic templates -- the patterns from which circuits are made -- using traditional chip making techniques. After, they pour a DNA solution over the surface of the silicon and the tiny triangles and squares -- what the scientists call DNA origami -- line themselves up to the patterns etched out using lithography.

IBM scientists in Almaden, working with Paul Rothmund of the California Institute of Technology, are looking at DNA Origami as a way to create smaller, more powerful computer chips. The scientists first create lithographic templates on silicon using traditional chip making techniques. Then they pour a solution of DNA Origami over the surface and the tiny DNA shapes line up in the etched patterns. Finally, they layer millions of nanotubes or nanoparticles over the DNA scaffold, where they adhere to form tiny integrated circuits. http://www.pcworld.com:80/article/170288/ibm_scientists_build_computer_chips_from_dna.html 

December 2009 - An iPhone app called Origami Star provides instructions on folding a 5 piece origami start using currency from six countries: Canada, China, Europe, Japan, Mexico, and USA. http://www.oriteks.com:80/MoneyStarOrigami.php 

January 2010 - Twitter's first developer's conference was named "Chirp". Part of the marketing included a web page with folding instructions for a Magical Origami Chirp Bird. The page invites folders to upload their creations to a Flickr gallery. http://chirp.twitter.com/secret_page.html 

January 2010 - the new Apple iPad has a slideshow transition called "origami", in which the current photo unfolds into the next photo. http://users.rcn.com/nycdesigner/ipad_origami.mov  

Copyright © Janet Hamilton 2009

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