The History of Vector Graphics

If you’re an artist or a digital creator, you probably feel quite confident talking about vectors.

But few of us have ever stopped to think about the humble beginnings of vector graphics or consider the huge impact they’ve had on the graphics industry in general.

That’s why we decided to take you on a brief journey through the history of vector graphics.

Hop along!

The early beginnings

What are vector graphics?

In a nutshell, they’re a computer image format that’s defined by mathematical formulas and consists of polygons and shapes.

In layman’s terms, vector graphics are only composed of lines that connect 2d points. 

Vectors originally appeared in the 1950s when they were used in modified oscilloscopes applied as computer displays.

The displays in question had limited memory, so displaying bitmaps was virtually impossible.

In the beginning, vectors were mostly used by the military and the civil air traffic control in order to ensure planes stayed on the right course.

The gaming industry

It wasn’t long before vectors found a new home in the computer and gaming industries.

Computer graphics pioneer Ivan Sutherland is often credited for giving vector graphics a boost in popularity in 1963. The first home gaming system that featured vectors was Vectrex, and various arcade games soon followed: amongst them Asteroids, Space Wars, and more.

Grand debut

However, vector graphics have to thank the advertising for their huge popularity.

From leaflets to catalogs to the gigantic billboards and branded household items we see daily, vectors are the king of modern design.

Most design work is done with vector graphics or vector elements, mostly thanks to the need for responsive web design.

The only reliable way to create graphic elements that automatically resize to fit your computer, tablet, smartphone, or laptop is by using vector graphics.

The standard format for vector graphics, or the scalable vector graphics (SVG) was introduced in 1999, but the SVGs are far from the only format.

Designers and advertisers today often work with vector formats like Adobe Illustrator (.ai) when creating logos for digital or print media.

Encapsulated PostScript (.eps) is a less popular, older vector format that doesn’t support transparency as modern vector formats do.

PDF vectors are quite common and are particularly suitable for exchanging documents across platforms.


This brings us to the end of our journey through time and the brief history of vector graphics.

Did you know, you can also edit and save vector elements in SVG format using Mediamodifier!

Head over to the Mediamodifier Free SVG Editor and try it.

Quik tip: You can even copy-paste your SVG code directly from Adobe Illustrator and continue editing your SVG right in the browser.

Send this post to your friend via:

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Notify of
1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Related posts

  • How to Do Branding as a Small Business

    Branding is sometimes said to be the backbone of a business. After all, it’s how your customers identify you, get to know you and remember you. As a small business, you may think that branding is something only big businesses do or something that may be done a little later. Indeed, it should be said […]

    Read more…
  • Ultimate Social Media Size Guide [Updated September 2021]

    Ever try to upload a photo as an event cover photo and realize it crops wrong because Facebook changed their image dimensions again? Never again will you have to worry about that. Here is an ultimate social media size guide. It’s updated frequently and covers everything you’ll need for Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest and Twitch […]

    Read more…
  • New Feature: Asset Library for Mockups

    Today we’re super excited to release a new feature for our Mockup Generator tool – Asset Library. Forget about searching for your commonly used pictures… each image you insert into a mockup template will be automatically saved into your asset library on the background, so you don’t have to take any extra steps to upload […]

    Read more…

Sign up today

Join 102783 customers already using Mediamodifier daily to craft visually rich mockups

Immediate access. No credit card required.