Ars Technica: Apple Computer ‘the most important of the graphical user interface pioneers’

“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.


  1. The past is irrelevant. The present is irrelevant. The future is irrelevant.

    All real IT pros know the future of .Net and all webcentric applications will need to run through that source in order to function in the new century. As such, all non .Net functions will slowly wither away while a new Microsoft hegemony rises to take over the Internet world.

    I scoff at small minded/market mac heads basking in the glory of their small victories. War takes place over years and decades. This war is Microsoft’s passage into the annuls of time.


  2. Hiya Sputman-dude

    You can’t be the “real” Sputnik, cuz the “real” Sputnik just copys and pastes the same .Net nonsense every few once and a while. I get where the “real” Sputnik’s humor is coming from.

    But, this last post is not coherent enough to goad the faithful. Whatever happened to “Apple is dead?”

    I’m somewhat disappointed.

  3. “This war is Microsoft’s passage into the annuls of time.”

    Nice going with “annuls,” Putznik! I returned my IBM ThinkPad to what is now my former workplace, and they can KEEP it. I feel like I just got an annulment from my marriage to M$. Now it’s just me and Mac, baby!

    Even the air smells better now…

    MW: of COURSE it does…

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