“Today, almost everybody in the developed world interacts with personal computers in some form or another. We use them at home and at work, for entertainment, information, and as tools to leverage our knowledge and intelligence. It is pretty much assumed whenever anyone sits down to use a personal computer that it will operate with a graphical user interface. We expect to interact with it primarily using a mouse, launch programs by clicking on icons, and manipulate various windows on the screen using graphical controls. But this was not always the case,” Jeremy Reimer writes for Ars Technica. “Why did computers come to adopt the GUI as their primary mode of interaction, and how did the GUI evolve to be the way it is today?”
Reimer covers much of the basic history of GUI development and along the way writes, “The most important of these GUI pioneers was a small startup founded in a garage in 1976 by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, called Apple Computer. Apple had built its fortune on the wildly popular Apple ][, which displayed both text and graphics but had a traditional command line interface. Apple was a young company that found itself flush with money, and was more willing to take risks.”
Of Windows 1.0, released in 1985, Reimer writes, “Microsoft was one of the earliest 3rd-party developers for the Macintosh, and actually got to use beta models of the first Mac before it was released to the world. Undoubtedly this influenced the direction of future releases of Windows.”
“The history of the development of the graphical user interface is a long and complicated tale. While it is easy to find individuals like Douglas Engelbart and Alan Kay who made great contributions to advancing the state of the art, the truth of the story is that the GUI was developed by many different people over a long period of time. Saying that ‘Apple invented the GUI’ or ‘Apple ripped off the idea from PARC’ is overly simplistic, but saying that ‘Xerox invented the GUI’ is equally so. In fact each team borrowed liberally from all GUIs that had been created in the past, added their own unique contributions, and paved the way for other teams to move forward in the future,” Reimer writes.
Full article, an excellent read, here.