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©Copyright 2008, 2014 Eric Wrobbel



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These hardworking data sheets went to dealers as hand-outs for interested customers. No one notices—or cares—if these kinds of materials are not in color, as long as layout, production, and printing are of high quality. To me, this is a no-brainer. Just when, exactly, would you ever want those things to be anything less than high quality?


Original data sheet for the Midi Bass by 360 Systems, mid-1980s. Eric Wrobbel Design. The Midi Bass is perhaps best known for that distinctive bass sound heard as musical intros and outros on the television show 'Seinfeld.' Other Midi Bass and more vintage gear: http://www.ericwrobbel.com/art/360datasheets.htm

Original data sheet for Midi Merge Plus by 360 Systems, mid-1980s. Eric Wrobbel Design. This channel merger, data filter, and transposer was one of the pioneering devices in the early days of Midi. More vintage gear including Midi Bass: http://www.ericwrobbel.com/art/360datasheets.htm
Original data sheet for Professional Midi Bass by 360 Systems, mid-1980s. Eric Wrobbel Design. The Midi Bass is perhaps best known for that distinctive bass sound heard as musical intros and outros on the television show 'Seinfeld.' Other Midi Bass and more vintage gear: http://www.ericwrobbel.com/art/360datasheets.htm

Original data sheet: Alternate Sound Library for Professional Midi Bass and original Midi Bass by 360 Systems, mid-1980s. Eric Wrobbel Design. The Midi Bass is perhaps best known for that distinctive bass sound heard as musical intros and outros on the television show 'Seinfeld.' Other Midi Bass and more vintage gear: http://www.ericwrobbel.com/art/360datasheets.htm

As I mention in "When black & white is right," not confusing people is one of my essential goals in communication. While confusion often serves the purposes of politicians and lawyers, it is antithetical to honest communication. This applies to graphics and this applies to text. It isn’t easy. People often won’t tell you when they are confused because they don’t want to appear stupid. And they can’t tell you why they’re confused because of course they don’t know. We have to anticipate confusion and nip it before it ever gets a hold.


This is where my special “idiot-proofing” service comes in. You see, I seem to be gifted at taking things the wrong way. If there is any way to take something wrong, I will automatically take it that way. I can’t even help myself! This is a valuable tool in communication as it allows me to anticipate the many ways the reader can misunderstand. The result is tighter and clearer communication. Costly misconceptions are avoided and the “wandering mind syndrome” that comes with uncertainty is minimized. This tightening sometimes reveals inherent problems with the message—and even the product, and leads to clearer thinking all around. Another quirky gift I seem to possess is being able to blank my mind and see things for the first time over and over again. This is very useful, as I am able to test each idiot-proofing change right away.


Clients are quite naturally too close to their own business to be able to idiot-proof their own efforts, even if they understand the need. Judging from what I see on a daily basis, many communications professionals are either unwilling or unable to provide this essential service. It is sorely needed in signage, in advertising, in forms, and in instructional materials of all kinds.

What: Copy assistance, design, illustration, production art
For: Data Sheets: Midi Bass, Midi Merge Plus, Professional Midi Bass, Midi Bass Alternate Sound Library
Client: 360 Systems
When: mid-1980s