This item is passed on to us by frequent Applied Arts contributor Gary Prouk, of the Sebastian Consultancy:
As we head into the London Olympics this weekend, image junkies might want to bone up on the pictograms that have been used to represent various Olympic Games over the decades. See the collection compiled by John Jan Popovic. He explains: “To many spectators, pictograms are a familiar form of Olympic imagery. First introduced at the 1948 Games in London, they became an integral facet of Olympic Games design at he Tokyo Games of 1964, serving an invaluable function as elegant and simple wayfinding devices.
“Pictograms have been a part of Olympic design programs since they were first formaly introduced at the 1964 Tokyo Games. The stylized figures easily communicate information to visitors and participants who have diverse language and cultural backgrounds.
“New pictograms were disigned for Mexico in 1968, Munich in 1972 and Moscow in 1980. Montreal chose the use the Munich pictograms. The LAOOC first inquired about the purchase rights of the pictograms used at Munich and later Montreal, but found the price to be higher than the costs of commissioning new pictograms and chose instead to sponsor a competition.”
Lots more descriptions and images are provided. See the London Olympic pictograms here.