The design inspiration comes from the album Unknown Pleasures released in 1979 by the English band Joy Division.
Is based on an image of radio waves from pulsar CP 1919, from The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Astronomy. Peter Saville reversed the image from black-on-white to white-on-black, against the band's stated preference for the original. "I was afraid it might look a little cheap. I was convinced that it was just sexier in black" since it represented a signal from space.