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User Interfaces Have Come a Long Way in IT: A Discussion

Posted on Friday, November 20, 2020 and filed under

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Each hardware piece (be it a smartphone or a laptop) features a UI (user interface) design, which is a key ingredient contributing to superior user experience. Any UI allows you to complete any task smoothly, and the overall experience becomes more enjoyable.

However, the UI you observe in your Windows PC or the Samsung smartphone has been evolving for quite some time now. Read on to learn how to use interface design has developed over the last four decades.

Command-Line Interfaces (CLI)

Before the introduction of CLI’s, people regarded complex user interfaces as a redundant expense since the software developers designed the software to make the most out of the processor. This began to change when Command-Line Interfaces came around. Command-Line Interfaces significantly lowered the latency to seconds. This is because the UI was a string of transactions (request-response) that allowed the user to change his/her mind regarding these transactions in response to previous transactions’ live data.

Video display terminals were the next important progression in the UI domain. Compared to having the command inputs printed, having them pop up on a screen and being able to alter them was much quicker. Furthermore, eliminating the need for printing materials was more economical.

GUI (Graphical User Interfaces)

The researchers developed the first-ever Graphical User Interface in the 1970’s era at the Xerox Palo Research Center. They were followed by a series of computer graphic innovations that ultimately led us to where we are standing in the current world.

The Xerox Star, which came out in 1981, was the first totally integrated desktop computer. Post this release, others in the IT community tries to duplicate similar. This led to the release of systems like the Mac OS System 1 and the VisiCorp Visi (both of these devices released in 1984).

The next decade of Graphical User Interfaces releases began to include features like greater processing power and better resolution displays. Prominent Graphical User Interface releases included Amiga Windows 1.0, Windows 2.0, and Windows 3.0 (released between 1985 and 1990) and the Mac OS System 7 that launched in 1991.

The Windows 95 was a considerable improvement on previous Windows Graphical User Interfaces. It was the first Windows Graphical User Interface to include a resize thumb on every window and a small close button. The most notable graphic feature, however, was the incorporation of the ‘start’ button that is still featured in Windows 10, which launched nearly two decades later.

The Smartphone Rise

Computer User Interface design began to change drastically towards the conclusion of the 2000’s owing to the smartphone popularity rise. This computing hardware shift led designers to redesign interfaces from the start. Of course, prior to the Apple iPhone, there were portable that included the first smart phone (IBM Simon released in 1993). This was the first device to include both PDA features and telephone.

However, it was Apple in 2007 who, until that point in time, came up with the most superior User Interface for handheld devices. This was a classic touch screen Graphical User Interface featuring multi-touch functionality. Apple launched the App Store in July 2008, and the Google Play Store released three months later. This led to the Windows Phone Store releasing in 2010 and the Amazon app store in 2011.

In today’s world, the design experts design handheld User Interfaces, keeping app functionality in mind.  However, this trend influences laptop and desktop User Interfaces as well. A prime example of this was Windows 8, which included functionality similar in nature to that of a modern tablet.

The next Windows launch (Windows 10) kept some of its predecessor’s app functionality but integrated it with the more recognizable Start Menu desktop graphics from earlier releases.

Bottom Line

User Interfaces have taken great strides since the conventional desktop operating systems. User Interface advancements such as augmented reality, brain-computer interfaces, and gesture functionality are likely to become more prevalent in the future.