History of the Computer Interface

by Linus Edwards


Jesse Hicks at The Verge writes a history of the modern computer interface, tracing its evolution over the past 40 years. One of the seminal moments of the computer interface came in the legendary "mother of all demos"

First, he used something called a “mouse” — which would soon displace that other method of graphical input, the light pen. He showed off WYSIWYG editing with embedded hyperlinks; he combined text with graphics. He speculated about the future of ARPANet, then barely on the horizon of technical possibility, which he believed would soon allow him to demonstrate NLS anywhere in the country. After all, he was already videoconferencing with his colleague behind the scenes in Menlo Park, some 30 miles away.

“We were not just building a tool, we were designing an entire system for working with knowledge.”