A history of the GUI
May 7, 2005 9:09 PM   Subscribe

A history of the GUI from the 1930s through the 90s. Also see Vannevar Bush's visionary 1945 essay As we May Think, which helped to set the wheels in motion. (Check out the Ars Technica discussion for good related links and commentary.) (via The Sideshow)
posted by madamjujujive (15 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The saddest thing, I think, is that nothing has gotten much better since about 1970.
posted by blacklite at 10:25 PM on May 7, 2005

The demo featured hypertext linking, full-screen document editing, context-sensitive help, networked document collaboration, e-mail, instant messenging, even video conferencing! It was all somewhat overwhelming, and due to limitations in the video system, sometimes difficult to tell what was going on. For example, NLS supported multiple windows, but there was no obvious way to indicate boundaries between them (such as window borders, title bars, etc).

If it wasn't on Ars Technica, I'd assume it was a joke.
posted by NickDouglas at 10:31 PM on May 7, 2005

This slashdot thread mentions some stuff that wasn't covered in the Ars article. Also see the Wikipedia article on the same subject.

Video the Engelbart demo is available here.
posted by Potsy at 10:59 PM on May 7, 2005

Well, that Lisa screenshot comes from my computer. No idea of who Jeremy Reimer is. The originals are all right here.
posted by tss at 3:47 AM on May 8, 2005

Only 4 comments? Even a non-geek like me found this fascinating. I'd heard about PARC but not about Engelbart. Watching him copy and paste with a mouse in 1968 was interesting. The best laid plans of men and mice... sometimes they go far indeed.
posted by Termite at 4:20 AM on May 8, 2005

The Sphere: a spherical desktop for Windows XP. (From the /. thread mentioned above).
posted by Termite at 6:08 AM on May 8, 2005

Excellent thread, thanks O' wonderful one!
posted by riffola at 7:00 AM on May 8, 2005

I really want a "Tom Cruise in Minority Report" interface. Screens aren't meant to be in boxes. (Seriously, isn't this clearly a superior interface?)
posted by NickDouglas at 9:02 AM on May 8, 2005

Apparently, the Minority Report interface is in the works, Nick. See also the Luminous Room.

tss: that's bad form - I didn't see any acknowledgement of your photos. Nice collection you have, too ;-)
posted by madamjujujive at 9:29 AM on May 8, 2005

Why do we need screens at all? Interactive electronic paper will do me fine.
posted by bonaldi at 9:34 AM on May 8, 2005

I really want a "Tom Cruise in Minority Report" interface.

You're lucky this place isn't run by user interface Talibans, bowing in the direction of the command line. My thought, when watching Minority Report, was: semi-transparent screens - are they nuts? Imagine having to work in Word on a transparent screen like the small one on Cruise's desk. Or Photoshop.
posted by Termite at 9:44 AM on May 8, 2005

According to John Smart at accelerationwatch.com the next user interface will be the LUI.
posted by ttopher at 10:49 AM on May 8, 2005

One last comment. I've been watching more of the movie clips with Engelbart, and whatever machine he's working on, it seems to copy text and sort lists just as fast as my computer running dog damned Windows XP. That is fun.
posted by Termite at 11:31 AM on May 8, 2005

This is cool, thanks once again mjjj!
posted by carter at 3:17 PM on May 9, 2005

If you enjoy this type of thing, I highly recommend tracking down Dr. Peter Salus' non-programming books. They are mostly out of print, but he was there and paying attention.

He also is still speaking at conferences and such. I even more highly recommend hearing him speak if you can. He was at the last Penguicon, and he was simply amazing.
posted by QIbHom at 3:16 PM on May 10, 2005

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