History of GUI

Once upon a time when the computers were size of a desk, there were no mouse, just a keyboard. And to make a computer do something you had to print the command line and enter it. There were now windows, no hyperlinks and no menus. And dinosaurs walked the streets. Nah, just kidding. No dinosaurs, but no computer mouse as well. And then came the ‘magician’.

History of GUI

Was it Steve, or was it Bill? It was Xerox company. Say ‘thank you’ while copying your docs next time. In 1973 Xerox Alto computer used the first ever GUI developed by Alan Kay in Xerox PARC (Palo-Alto Research Center). It incorporated text-based hyperlinks, windows, menus, radio buttons, and check boxes manipulated with a mouse. It also had a click-and-drag but not a drag-and-drop. A user could click and drag the menus.

Back then GUI demanded too resourceful a hardware, and they in Xerox didn’t see how they could market their creation. It remained just an interesting research project with a mind to the future, the project they liked to show to visitors like Steve and Bill.

Jobs was the first to realize the GUI potential and invited Xerox engineers over to Apple corporation. His decision paid well as in 1983 first GUI based Apple Lisa appeared. LISA wasn’t named this after a developer’s girlfriend or daughter, it stood for Local Integrated System Architecture. Apple Lisa had a microscopic 5 MB hard drive (so small it’s even cute!) and faulty floppy drive, and was slow. But it introduced menu bar and window controls lacking in Xerox Star.

TV ad of Apple Lisa was based upon Orwell’s “1984” dystopia and directed by Ridley Scott himself. Funny, but only previous year had he released the greatest sci-fi movie of the 20th century “Bladerunner” featuring the futuristic personal computer with GUI and human interactive interface. Bladerunner Deckard has a home computer on which he examines the pictures found in the den of a runaway replicant.

Immediately other companies began developing their GUI, Microsoft among them. Speaking of which, Gates and Jobs constantly argued who stole the idea from whom. Apple sued Microsoft for using Lisa GUI in Windows 1.0. But as Apple itself was in precarious position, risking the claim from Xerox in regard to the same matter, nothing came out of it.

The question of who was the author of the first marketed GUI has remained complicated until now. Xerox brought up an idea, but Apple and Microsoft developed it and added new features, so it’s really hard to say, which is which.

I just wonder, if they have started developing neuro interface already. Have you, guys?


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What is a Graphical User Interface? Video published by The Hello World Program, on August 6, 2014. Sometimes you need to access or modify the features of your operating system. Graphical User Interfaces help you do just that.


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