It was the battle of the “meatball” and the “worm.” Or, not so much a battle, but a resistance against modernization. NASA had been using the logo that came to be known as the “meatball” for years when the Federal Graphics Improvement Program tried to modernize many of the old, ugly logos that various government agencies used, starting in 1972. Richard Danne and Bruce Blackburn unveiled their design for NASA in 1974. It was a sleek, minimalist, modern design eventually called the “worm.” It came with a 90-page manual for its use. The public loved it, but the engineers at NASA didn’t think much of it. They were busy exploring space, and really didn’t understand graphic design. There was an exchange recalled later that occurred between NASA administrator James Fletcher and his deputy George Low:
Fletcher: I’m simply not comfortable with those letters, something is missing.
Low: Well yes, the cross stroke is gone from the letter A.
Fletcher: Yes, and that bothers me.
Fletcher, after a long pause: I just don’t feel we are getting our money’s worth!
But NASA used the new logo until 1992, when they suddenly scrapped the worm and reinstated the meatball.
Read the story of the worm and why NASA now uses the retro 1950s-era meatball at Wired. -via Metafilter