As everybody in 2024 is well aware, technology is constantly evolving. Today, our tech knowledge is mainly related to cell phones, the internet, and AI, and it can be challenging to remember the time before the digital age! However, it did exist, and signage was a large part of it. As we moved from rotary phones to landlines to miniature computers in our pockets, signage moved from traditional to digital. But when, how, and why?

This article explores the evolution of signage and the digital signage revolution. For personalized advice, contact our team at Signworks today.

In the Beginning, There Was Signage

Traditional signage— printed, engraved, painted, and even handwritten— is still alive and well today, albeit far less frequently than it used to be. But signage dates even further back than that!

Many historians believe that the ancient Greeks and Romans started the concept of signage. Typically, they used these signs for communication, and they were painted or engraved stone markers that conveyed public announcements. The ancient Greeks and Romans tended to use imagery rather than written language on their signage due to the mass illiteracy of the general population.

As cities rapidly grew, laws came in about where signs could be placed and how large they could be. Then, when the Industrial Revolution came along and brought electricity with it, the opportunity for signage expanded even further. Suddenly, it became possible to produce signs for many more purposes and to even mass produce them, giving way to advertising as we know it today.

Let There Be Light

Electricity meant signs could then be illuminated by light. Lighting allowed them to be seen in the dark, making signage 50% more visible! With manufactured light came the opportunity to make signage more than simply informational.

While traditional signage was all about simple markers and identifiers, the evolution of technology allowed it to branch off from its humble beginnings. Business owners used lighting to attract people’s attention to shops, restaurants, casinos, movie theaters, and so on. Not only could they draw more attention, but they could also display more information at all times of the day and night, generating business and profit like never before.

This continued with the invention of plastic, making signage even faster and cheaper. Between lighting and plastic, signage had evolved from ancient inscriptions of short informational messages to the digital billboards of today, giving way to marketing, commerce, and human connection.

Advancements in Technology

The invention of the lightbulb was revolutionary, but as we know, technology didn’t stop there. Computers, which used to take up entire rooms, became small and accessible enough for all businesses to utilize. This meant people could design, create, print, and erect signage faster than ever!

Graphic designers and other artists could use software to help their work come to life even more, and programmers had more options than simply ‘lights on’ and ‘lights off’. With this, they could control how and when signage was displayed, not only giving consumers information but doing so in an aesthetically pleasing way.

Where to From Here?

Though some claim the world is becoming more disconnected, technological advancements like signage may signal the opposite. While we don’t know what the future holds, ‘futuristic’ signage like holograms and interactive signage is becoming more common, giving people more opportunities to connect. After all, what could make strangers talk and laugh with each other more than an interactive display?

Signworks: Ushering in the Future of Signage

Signage certainly isn’t going anywhere— it’s just that we need to wait and see where it goes and when. Until then, we’re happy to watch and get involved in any way we can!

One of our favorite ways to do so is to learn about your signage ideas. At Signworks, we’ve been creating signage for over 30 years and have watched technology evolve with our very eyes. Whether you’re a project owner, developer, architect, or engineer, if you want to make a lasting impression on your audience, contact our experienced team today.