-- Ralph Johnson
One of BYTE's very early issues was dedicated to one of Carl's (Carl Helmers, founding editor of BYTE) favorite languages, Pascal. Carl decided he wanted the cover of this issue to be a special one entitled "Pascal's Triangle," and he wished to illustrate the superiority of the Pascal language by representing it as a triangular shaped area of calm in a stormy sea of other computer languages. One of the other languages represented on the cover was Smalltalk; as I recall, Carl's opinion of Smalltalk at that time (remember, this was almost two decades ago) was that although it was a worthy enough language, it was cloistered in the "ivory tower" of corporate research, and relatively inaccessible to the average hacker. So, we represented Smalltalk as an ivory tower atop a shear cliff in the stormy sea outside of Pascal's triangle.
Later, in 1981, it was Smalltalk's turn to be featured on the cover of BYTE. Carl told me that since the Smalltalk developers had taken good-natured "offense" at their representation in the previous cover, this time they wanted Smalltalk to be shown at the moment of liberation from the ivory tower. I'm not positive, but I think it was the Smalltalk team itself who came up with the idea of using the image of a balloon. Anyway, I painted the same cliffs and ivory tower from the previous cover, only this time they are being left far below as Smalltalk escapes its cloistered image and ascends to the heights of popular appeal!
By the way, I did in fact offer this cover as a limited edition print; it was one of my most popular ones, and it sold out long ago!
-- Robert Tinney
The original Byte magazine cover
-- Webmaster, 8/24/98
This rendition of the Smalltalk Balloon was drawn by Ian Chai.