Short History of Advertising Design

The history of advertising can be broken down into three distinct eras defined by technology. In fact, you may be lucky enough to be witnessing a transition into a fourth era. We'll briefly define the three eras and trace how advertising evolved in the United States throughout the 20th century and into the present day.

Three Advertising Eras

Scholars of advertising break down the evolution of the field into three general eras:

  • The premarketing era, from prehistory to the 1750s— This era spanned from clay tablets and town criers to barber poles and tavern signs. The tremendous boom in mass printing marks the end of this era.

  • The mass communication era, from the 1750s through World War II— This era covers the ...

Get Graphic Design Portfolio-Builder: Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator Projects now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.