Second picture by Sargant.

This entry is about a very special topic on user interface design – it’s about the labeling of (volume) controls on analog and digital boxes. Ordinary volume controls are labeled with numbers just from 0 to 10, well I guess because we have ten fingers and generally live in a decimal system. Now why are there knobs going to eleven? The origin is going back to a rockumentary video made by the reality/parody band The Spinal Tap back in 1984. In this video Nigel Tufnel speaks about their Marshall amps that have a very clever feature, because all volume controls are labeled from 0 to 11. Opposed to the ordinary Guitar player who plays at the maximum volume with all controllers turned up to ten they are able to turn their amps “one more louder” – up to eleven. See the originating part of the video below.

Up to eleven became a synonym for “to the maximum level” or “taking it to the extreme” and lots of nice and interesting stories are wrapped around that parody video, that still influences the user interfaces of mostly musical gear. Read much more and a comprehensive list of 11-appearances at the Wikipedia site.


Blog - Date published: September 14, 2007 | 0 Comments

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