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Discussion in 'MacBytes.com News Discussion' started by MacBytes, Oct 13, 2005.
Link: Whose Idea Was It?
Posted on MacBytes.com
Approved by Mudbug
Xerox's GUI work introduced some of what we are used to today, but Xerox was only part of an evolution that started with writings of Vannevar Bush in the 1930s and 40s that predated digital computers! Bush's writings inspired Douglas Englebart, who made the first working GUI and invented the mouse. BEFORE he worked for Xerox.
Then came Xerox's important PARC work (which mainly stayed in the labs), and then Apple came along and added a great deal themselves. They perfected the mouse hardware (it wasn't a practical, reliable device before Apple's) AND introduced much of what we now expect in a GUI. (Jobs' NeXT went its own way and innovated some things we now expect from GUIs too--and of course NeXTStep is a big part of Mac OS X's lineage.)
So for the record, some things Apple/NeXT contributed to the GUI:
Pulldown menus (including the File Edit View structure still used today)
Checkmark-selected menu items
Keyboard shortcuts for menus
Graying-out unavailable items
Trashcan (aka recycle bin)
Every file being an icon (and dragging for file management)
Hierarchical file browsing with windows representing directory contents
Metadata fork, including assigning what app would open what file
Redrawing of only the necessary part of a window when something in front of it is moved (which Quartz now makes moot--but Windows XP is still that primitive)
Shaded/beveled look for windows and icons (NeXT is the first I'm aware of that went all the way with that)
"X" symbol for closing windows (NeXT had it, then it showed up in other UNIXes and Windows... now it's on Mac too)
Dock that can be placed at any edge
Dialogs ("sheets") visually attached directly to their associated windows
So Xerox PARC introduced a lot of important concepts--scrollbars for instance, and some limited use of icons--but to appreciate Apple's contribution to the GUI, just imagine life without the above.
An of course Apple made a successful real-world PRODUCT with a GUI. Xerox never managed that, although they did release the unsuccessful Star.
One thing's for sure, the idea didn't come from Microsoft like many people think
For more on GUI history, see:
So you're saying the scene in Pirates of Silicon Valley where the Xerox people show Steve a computer with pull-down menus is not true?
This stuff should be taught in all schools. It's such crap that people think Microsoft came up with the whole picture.
What kills me more is when people say Bill Gates invented the internet. PLEASE.
BTW, who invented the internet?
Heh, I used to use this Xerox stuff before I used a Mac. I still have them huge floppies I used to load into those brown boxes. The Xerox stuff was way expensive over here, but there is no doubt it worked in an internal office environment. It was years before I could drag & drop a document over a printer icon, walk down the corridor and pick it out of a printer on my Mac, AFAIR.
According to the history at Ars, not true But I'd be curious to see the scene and what was really happening--assuming it was the actual Xerox GUI being shown.
(And wasn't it OTHER people at Apple who wanted to SHOW Steve the stuff at PARC? Really they were the ones who were first inspired by the GUI, not Steve anyway.)
It is a very interesting series of articles in PCMag, including the "Whose idea it was" article.
Okay, so I had a lot of time while waiting for code to compile today and actually read about 90% of the whole Windows 20th Anniversary thing that is article is part of.
Filled with a lot of "rah rah" Windows is awesome stuff, to be expected, but the following 2 Q&A quotes epitomized why MicroSoft products just never seem to have, as Steve Jobs puts it, "class":
Why does my PC even come into this picture? How about just asking your hands-free cell phone (or pda, or car computer, or whatever) what the gate is and it not having to use your PC? i.e. "Computer, ", said after tapping the BlueTooth headset button, ", find out what gate my flight leaves from this morning." Phone/PDA checks it's the calendar, searches for the flight, hits some travel SOAP server on the web and reads back the info.
Um, yeah. I really want my entire life on "video". (or whatever)
The USA army, if I remember. They needed a means to transfer information during wars. Especially if a building was being attacked, in which they could transfer the data and then delete the info in the building. I believe this was how the internet came about.
Here's a brief history of the internet and this is the man who invented the World Wide Web.
...invented it, no less, on a NeXT box aka ancestor of Mac OS X...
Are you referring to period of vietnam war?
The links are broken
This describes it pretty well.
They work now, bit late though
Thanks for sharing the link! Didn't know till now that it all started out of Defense Department project.
Multiple interviews with the people involved at the time tell it that way, yes. The people at Apple were already playing around with GUI concepts, and arranged for the PARC tour so they could show Steve Jobs a working version of what they had in mind.