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Object Timeline

1981

  • Work on this object began.

2002

  • We acquired this object.

2012

2019

  • You found it!

Poster, Eye Bee M (IBM), 1981

This is a Poster. It was designed by Paul Rand. It is dated 1981 and we acquired it in 2002. Its medium is offset lithograph. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

In the 1950s, IBM hired Eliot Noyes as design consultant to revamp the company’s identity. Noyes subsequently hired modern graphic artist Paul Rand, who designed the iconic striped IBM logo as well as various packaging, posters, and other design work for which he became renowned as a leading corporate designer. Rand’s IBM logo was intended to give consistency to the letters, each of which is wider than the last. The striped letters, with eight- and thirteen-bar variants, suggest speed, dynamism, and make the ordinary block letters less standard, and therefore more memorable. In this poster, Rand has replaced the first two letters with pictograms while retaining the “M” of what by this time had become iconic. He claimed that the “B” and “I” were the least likely letters in the alphabet to be misinterpreted in a rebus. Rand has described the rebus as “a kind of game designed to engage the reader and, incidentally, lots of fun.” Further, the rebus humanized the corporate giant while maintaining reference to its iconic striped letters. The in-house poster was considered so successful that IBM has continued printing the design for other purposes and in variant forms.

It is credited Gift of Marion S. Rand.

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Its dimensions are

91.6 × 61.1 cm (36 1/16 × 24 1/16 in.)

It is signed

Printed in script, in gray ink, lower right: Paul Rand

It is inscribed

Printed in gray text, bottom left margin: ©Copyright IBM Corporation, 1991. All Rights Reserved. / TM Trademark of the IBM Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.

Cite this object as

Poster, Eye Bee M (IBM), 1981; Designed by Paul Rand (American, 1914–1996); USA; offset lithograph; 91.6 × 61.1 cm (36 1/16 × 24 1/16 in.); Gift of Marion S. Rand; 2002-11-20

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://www-6.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18695343/ |title=Poster, Eye Bee M (IBM), 1981 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=19 July 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>