Graphical User Interface (GUI): Engelbart presents computer processes visually on screen
Television is traditionally vilified as being a vacuous, flashing goggle box-“chewing gum for the eyes.” However, in the twenty-first century people are much more likely to be goggling at a computer screen than a television set.
That is strange because unlike the television, the computer did not originally include a screen. When they were first created, computer simple processed data from manually inserted punch cards. Save for some mechanical whirring and they gave no real visual clues as to what they were up to. To have even the most basic understanding of what a computer was doing at any given point in its processing, a person needed a fairly advanced degree in mathematics.
Since the invention of the Graphical User Interface (GUI), that privilege has been accessible to everyone. The man who paved the way was Douglas Engelbart (Birth Year: 1925). Inspired by anessay by Vannevar Bush that he read in “The Atlantic Monthly” magazine, Engelbart led the development in a processing new human and computer interaction system known as the “oH-Line System” or NLS. The first to employ a display screen, it used vector graphics, clickable hypertext links and screen-windowing, all controlled by a cursor. When demonstrated in 1968, it caused a huge sensation.
Engelbart’s radial ideas were further developed by Alan Kay (Birth Year: 1940) of the Palo Alto Research Center who introduced the idea of graphical representations of computing functions. The folders, menus and overlapping windows with which we are all familiar today grew out of Kay’s pre-eminent work. Together, they transformed how we viewed computers.