Vignelli Center
for Design Studies
Rochester Institute of Technology

Vignelli Center to Receive Archive of Aaron Marcus

Pioneer of Graphic Design with Computers, Computer Art, User-Interface Design and Information-Visualization Design/Digital Media

Designer Aaron Marcus is donating his professional archive to RIT’s Vignelli Center for Design Studies. His California-based firm, Aaron Marcus and Associates (AM+A), is a user-interface design and consulting company, one of the first such independent, computer-based design firms in the world.



Marcus is widely recognized as the first formally-trained designer to use the computer for graphic design applications.  He obtained his BA in Physics at Princeton University in 1965. He obtained his BFA and MFA in 1968 at Yale University’s School of Art and Architecture. He learned about painting, drawing, printmaking, and letterpress printing workshops informally, photography, and art history. He also learned about book design, calligraphy, color, graphic design, drawing, film making, printing, printmaking, painting, typography, and photography.


At Yale, while a design graduate student, he also began the study of computer graphics, taking a course in basic functioning of computers, and he learned FORTRAN programming at the Yale Computer Center in the summer of 1966.


In 1967, Marcus spent a summer making ASCII art as a researcher at AT&T’s Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey. From 1968 to 1977, in the School of Architecture and Urban Planning and in the Visual Arts Program, he taught at Princeton University: color, computer art, computer graphics, concrete/visual poetry, environmental graphics, exhibit design, graphic design, history/philosophy of design/visual communication, information design, information visualization, layout, publication design, systematic design, semiotics, typography, and visual design. In 1969-71, he programmed a prototype desktop publishing page-layout application for AT&T Bell Labs. In 1971-73, he programmed some of the first virtual reality art/design spaces ever created while a faculty member at Princeton University.



In the early 1980s, he was a Staff Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in Berkeley, as well as a faculty member of the University of California at Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design.

In 1982, he founded Aaron Marcus and Associates, Inc. (AM+A), a user-interface design and consulting company, one of the first such independent, computer-based design firms in the world.


Roger Remington, RIT’s Vignelli Distinguished Professor of Design, commented that, “We are very fortunate in having Aaron’s career works here at RIT as they historically represent the unique fusion of the worlds of digital media and Graphic Design. Over the years it has been a pleasure to work with Aaron and to have hosted him here at RIT on several occasions.”