This is a training video that was created in 1982 by Xerox to introduce their new graphical user interface to business customers. It’s really nerdy, and the early 80’s backdrop doesn’t help at all. I could only watch about 3/4 of it before my brain started to melt. Still, it was nostalgic to hear the CLICKCLACK of an early keyboard. This is one of the first instances of a computer that uses a mouse, desktop, windows, and a network. All the hallmarks of our modern interface. That was 28 years ago. For one human generation and perhaps a dozen computer generations, we have been improving upon that original idea.
I think it’s time for new interfaces to emerge in the computing world. I’m part of the first generation to use computers at an impressionable age. Those high school experiences have guided many of my interests since then. I grew up with the Mouse, Windows, Desktop, Network. It was originally designed to mimic someone’s desk… in an office… It’s still designed that way, but we don’t use computers that way. We’ve been using computers as media and gaming devices from the very beginning. The original companies, the Microsofts and IBMs, still feel that the home market is secondary to the corporate market. So, they continue to design interfaces around the idea of a desk with folders on it. The ironic thing is, modern offices don’t look like that, either. The idea of replicating a desk with drawers and a paste bottle on it belongs in the 70’s where it was originally conceived.
These two talks from Ted.com illustrate some new interfaces that are starting to come into the mainstream. The multi touch screen is available for small applications like cell phones, and should be a common interface in the next couple years. I can’t wait for the free gesture interface to get here. John Underkoffler’s rig in the video looks very expensive. that may be 8-10 years off.