In the 1970s and 80s, BYTE magazine had beautiful covers painted by Robert Tinney with surrealistic images mashing up computer technology with other things. I wondered, what if these scenes really existed, and a photographer took pictures of them?

So I have been re-creating Tinney's images as photographs, using real-world objects and compositing them together. No CGI is used.

The first photo I created was "Computer Engineering", showing a train chugging around a PCB. Robert Tinney says it's the most popular BYTE cover he made. I started by making and photographing a PCB that matched the one in Tinney's painting. Then I bought an HO scale model train, put LEDs inside to light up the windows, photographed it, and combined the images. The smoke rings were made by a toy smoke-ring gun, photographed in front of a black background.

The second photo is "Chip Building", showing a workman jack-hammering out a CPU. This was the cover for a BYTE issue that featured the 6809 microprocessor. So I bought a 6809 on eBay, de-capped it, and photographed it through a macro lens. I rented a jackhammer and photographed myself with it. I'm a less brawny, more nerdy, and more hirsute workman than the fellow in Tinney's painting, but I'm too cheap to hire a model.

The third, "Number Crunching", was relatively easy. I 3D printed the numbers, used them to make a silicone mold, then cast the final numbers out of plaster, which a nutcracker cracks nicely. I propped the nutcracker on small wood blocks, then Photoshopped ICs over them.

Finally, "Inside IBM" was made using a real (broken) IBM PC monitor. Tinney had taken some liberties with the interior of the monitor - it was clear that he had a monitor in front of him to paint from, but it was also clear that he changed some things (most notably, the color of the PCB's solder mask). I had to make several choices about when I would stick with the real monitor, vs. when I would try to imitate Tinney's painting.