The earliest print advertisement for Gibson's first 'artist' guitar, from March 1957: the 'new streamlined' Byrdland - named after Billy Byrd and Hank Garland who collaborated in the design of this guitar.
Byrd and Garland were well-known, and well-respected session guitarists, who were asked what they wanted to see in a Gibson guitar. Among the things they suggested, was a thinner bodied archtop, with a shorter scale than was typical at the time.
The first Byrdland was registered in June 1955, for display at the July NAMM show in Chicago - but four prototypes were produced earlier, in April of that year, including the two shown. These were actually listed as special thin versions of the L-5CES, and most notably were not fitted with the better known Byrdland 'loop' tailpiece that adorned production models.