Historical Perspectives

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Readings

Brad A. Myers. "A Brief History of Human Computer Interaction Technology." ACM interactions. Vol. 5, no. 2, March, 1998. pp. 44-54.

Reading Responses

Andrew Fang - 4/12/2014 21:25:08

The first computer I used regularly was a Windows 95 computer. I remember playing Tonka Construction for hours on end. It had a mouse and keyboard for input, and its functions included the list of Myers' three basic interactions: a mouse pointer that allowed for direct manipulation of objects on the screen, a mouse that controlled said pointer, and overlaying windows. I believe it had a very early version of Microsoft Word (text editing), and Microsoft Excel (spreadsheets), Microsoft Paint (drawing application), Internet explorer, and of course video games. As a child, I spent most of my time on the computer playing video games, and there were many applications of this type installed on my computer. That first computer lacked a direct touch-based interface that recognized gestures and motions, although according to the article, this was already in development. It could also not process human speech, take pictures, record audio, or record video, though all of this was also being researched. Unlike computers today (think smartphone), this computer could not fit in my pocket, and this ability to shrink processors and components came about much later.


Daniel Haas - 4/13/2014 12:26:39

The first computer I used regularly ran the MS-DOS operating system on IBM hardware. It did not have a windowed user interface: the interface was one single command-line prompt, and there was no capability for multitasking (you couldn't open multiple prompts at once). The command-line interface didn't afford pointing, windows, or graphical manipulation of objects. The computer had no ethernet card, so there was no connection to the internet--no web browsing or social collaboration was possible. In terms of applications, the computer had a simple text editor, but (I was quite young) I mostly used it to play games, often educational ones such as Math Blaster (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blaster_Learning_System), which has changed a lot over the years (http://www.mathblaster.com/)! These games had a graphical interface, but interaction was fully keyboard-based (no mouse, just arrow keys and a small set of control keys, like you might find on a video game controller). There were definitely no drawing, spreadsheet, or CAD applications available. Applications were installed using floppy discs.

Comparing to Myers' timeline, my computer was purchased around 1991. Since every technology listed by Myers existed in at least prototype form in both academic and industrial research labs well before then, it is clear that the interface technology for more complex graphical interactions already existed. In fact, according to the article, windowing systems even existed commercially (Xerox Star in 1981, Apple Macintosh in 1984, X Window in 1984). I believe we upgraded the family computer to Windows 3.1 a couple years later (1993 or 1994), which was my first windowed operating system.


Myra Haqqi - 4/13/2014 11:36:33

The first computer I used regularly was a Dell laptop with Windows Vista. This was when I was in middle school, which was seven years ago in 2007.

The user interface and the applications available on the computer at that time include a very simple interface with a Start menu in the bottom left. The applications available on the computer at the time included Paint (a drawing program), and Microsoft Office applications (e.g. Word, Powerpoint, Excel, which are text and spreadsheet editors), and Internet Explorer (a Web browser).

The important user interface aspects and applications that we use today that were missing in my first computer include touch-screen interaction: namely, direct manipulation of objects on the screen. Now, with the advancement of touch technology, tablets and smartphones allow for the direct manipulation of objects. This allows users to directly touch the object of interest and manually move it around. However, on my first computer, I used indirect manipulation via a mouse which I moved on my desk, which controlled a pointer on the screen. Furthermore, the concept of expose was not included in my first laptop, which I now have on my current Macbook Pro, which shows you all the windows that you currently have open.

Another significant user interface aspect employed today that was missing from my first computer is gesture recognition, which allows users to make gestures in order to perform tasks. Now, trackpads and screens incorporate gestures, where different motions allow for distinct features. Also, there were no 3D effects in Windows Vista in the interface I used in the past. Rather, everything was very flat with 2D shapes. Now, many interfaces have 3D graphics that enhance the appearance of the interface design. Another feature that appears in contemporary interfaces, as opposed to the interfaces I used seven years ago, is the concept of virtual and augmented reality.

Compared to Myers' history of user interfaces, my list is very similar. However, in my laptop, the applications included were drawing programs (e.g. Paint), text editing (e.g. Microsoft Word), Spreadsheets (e.g. Microsoft Excel), Video Games and Hypertext. My laptop, however, did not include Computer Aided Design applications. Also, while Myers’ list includes Natural language and speech as an “up and coming area,” my application already had a built-in Microsoft speech-recognition program.

These aspects already existed in research (but not in consumer computers), rather than them being invented later. All of the features which exist in my current devices that were not present in my first computer are included in the list that Myers claims were already being researched, as described above.


Michelle Nguyen - 4/13/2014 16:10:29

I first began using computers regularly in elementary school. At this time in the late 90's, most of the user interface and the applications that Myers describes in the history of user interfaces were already available in commercial products. For instance, the computer already made use of different windows and using a mouse to navigate across the screen was very common. Many programs, such as Microsoft Paint, employed ideas such as direct manipulation, which allowed users to edit, draw, and stretch their images. There were already simple text editors and Microsoft Word. The web and the efficiency of HyperText was already booming and had many vast uses. Some websites actively used multimedia on their pages, even having interactive flash games. Video games for the PC were also common at that time. Now, with touch screens becoming more prominent in technology, gesture recognition is not uncommon. Users can now pinch to zoom in with a simple gesture, rather than having to click a button. According to Myers' list, this user interface aspect has been in commercial products since a little after 1975. However, it clearly did not have as widespread use as it does now. Another improvement from old computers is 3d graphics, which are prominent in the video games of today. According to Myers, most of the 3D graphics in the past were only in research labs and not used in commercial products. Another application that has become widely used in modern day is the use of natural language and speech. With Google translate, Siri, Google Now, and other similar applications, this technology is becoming integrated with our lives and the technology we use. At the time of Myers' article, this field had only been a topic of research.


Charles Park - 4/14/2014 16:31:05

The first computer I used regularly was a windows xp. It had a lot of the key pc features that computers have today such as the user's interaction with keyboard and mouse, application for drawing processes, word processing, graphic manipulation, and usage of internet. The resolution, while not at the level of retina, was great and it was aesthetically pleasing. It was missing, however, some applications such as window manipulation. One of these is the ability to make a window fill the entire screen or half a screen by dragging the window to the sides or top of the screen. It also lacks the ability to create tabs. For each different tab you wanted you use, you had to have a different window for each. It lacks many of the touchpad gestures available on a mac (my current computer). According to Myers' list, these aspects were in active research and technically available, but not to the extend we use them today. These functions, while available at least in a research phase, were not actively available to the functionalities of today's computers.


Zack Mayeda - 4/14/2014 22:31:26

The first computer that I used regularly was a Mac that just ran basic things like text editors, drawing apps, and kids computer games. I rarely used a web browser, but when I did it was very slow. I remember most of the interfaces as having the same basic structure as Macs today: windowed applications with a menu bar at the top of the screen. Most applications were fairly plainly colored and were subtly styled to appear three dimensional.

Compared to my computer today, it lacked video editing, video chatting, music playing, 3D modeling, and reminder applications. There are probably many more applications that it lacked, but those are the ones that clearly stick out in my mind. In terms of interfaces, it didn't have live video let alone good quality video of any kind in any application. The first computer I used didn't have the ability to use multiple desktops or a dock or launchpad to look at applications. It also lacked the numerous status and info icons that can be added to the top bar on Macs today. Additionally, it lacked the ability to process voice commands.

Looking at the Myers' list, all of these aspects existed in research except the concept of multiple desktops.


Sijia Li - 4/14/2014 22:48:44

I started to use computer when I was in 2nd grade in elementary school. At that time, my school offered a computer class. The desktops we were using were running MS-DOS. It is hard to imagine that we were using the MS-DOS desktops without a single mouse. All we had to do is to memorize and type those MS-DOS commands into command line by keyboard.

The first computer I used "regularly" is my dad's IBM Thinkpad laptop which runs Windows 98. In Windows 98, Direct Manipulation of graphical objects was popular and already implemented; users can drag objects (e.g. icons) to move them, just like what the author describe direct manipulation "The now ubiquitous direct manipulation interface, where visible objects on the screen are directly manipulated with a pointing device" (quote from the reading, "A Brief History of Human Computer Interaction Technology").

At that time, probably in the year of 1999 or early 2000, laptop was as thick and heavy as a brick and the battery can only last for about 30 minute (maximum capacity). Most of the software that time looks pretty pale; most of them were using solid color as their background color. However, mouse was used by many computer users and there were some pretty "fancy" applications available on that laptop, for example, MS Excel ("Spreadsheets" example discussed in the reading), MS Word ("Text Editing" example discussed in the reading), MS Paint and a video game "Command & Conquer: Red Alert". MS Paint is an example of “Drawing programs” described in the reading. I remember the MS Paint application installed on that laptop clearly, because I used to draw some of my favorite cartoon character on that laptop. The old version Paint installed on the first computer I used regularly looks pretty much the same as the today's Paint. Both the layout of the Paint program and the functionality of Paint stay the same This is an example of the “Drawing programs” application discussed in the reading.

Moreover, the Red Alert video game was one of the games that I liked the most back in that time. The user-interaction design in the game was indeed a very successful one; the user used a mouse to command his or her armies (click target, click to select, click to move, click to attack) and there was a health bar for every unit. This is an example of the “Video Game” application discussed in the reading.

In short, "Gesture Recognition" and "Touch Screen", which are important user interfaces aspects that we use today, were missing in my first computer.

One of the most important user interface nowadays is the (multi-touch) "gesture recognition". From the reading, the author mentioned that Gesture Recognition was already under active research at the time of writing this article. Back then Gesture Recognition was mainly pen-based input (from the reading, section "Up-and-Coming Areas"), which is very different from the track pad or track point (on Thinkpad) which we have now on most laptops. Moreover, (multi-) touch screen, which implements Direct Manipulation user interface, is another device that we did not have back on the first computer I used regularly.


Sijia Li - 4/14/2014 22:49:35

I started to use computer when I was in 2nd grade in elementary school. At that time, my school offered a computer class. The desktops we were using were running MS-DOS. It is hard to imagine that we were using the MS-DOS desktops without a single mouse. All we had to do is to memorize and type those MS-DOS commands into command line by keyboard.

The first computer I used "regularly" is my dad's IBM Thinkpad laptop which runs Windows 98. In Windows 98, Direct Manipulation of graphical objects was popular and already implemented; users can drag objects (e.g. icons) to move them, just like what the author describe direct manipulation "The now ubiquitous direct manipulation interface, where visible objects on the screen are directly manipulated with a pointing device" (quote from the reading, "A Brief History of Human Computer Interaction Technology").

At that time, probably in the year of 1999 or early 2000, laptop was as thick and heavy as a brick and the battery can only last for about 30 minute (maximum capacity). Most of the software that time looks pretty pale; most of them were using solid color as their background color. However, mouse was used by many computer users and there were some pretty "fancy" applications available on that laptop, for example, MS Excel ("Spreadsheets" example discussed in the reading), MS Word ("Text Editing" example discussed in the reading), MS Paint and a video game "Command & Conquer: Red Alert". MS Paint is an example of “Drawing programs” described in the reading. I remember the MS Paint application installed on that laptop clearly, because I used to draw some of my favorite cartoon character on that laptop. The old version Paint installed on the first computer I used regularly looks pretty much the same as the today's Paint. Both the layout of the Paint program and the functionality of Paint stay the same This is an example of the “Drawing programs” application discussed in the reading.

Moreover, the Red Alert video game was one of the games that I liked the most back in that time. The user-interaction design in the game was indeed a very successful one; the user used a mouse to command his or her armies (click target, click to select, click to move, click to attack) and there was a health bar for every unit. This is an example of the “Video Game” application discussed in the reading.

In short, "Gesture Recognition" and "Touch Screen", which are important user interfaces aspects that we use today, were missing in my first computer.

One of the most important user interface nowadays is the (multi-touch) "gesture recognition". From the reading, the author mentioned that Gesture Recognition was already under active research at the time of writing this article. Back then Gesture Recognition was mainly pen-based input (from the reading, section "Up-and-Coming Areas"), which is very different from the track pad or track point (on Thinkpad) which we have now on most laptops. Moreover, (multi-) touch screen, which implements Direct Manipulation user interface, is another device that we did not have back on the first computer I used regularly.


Jay Kong - 4/15/2014 14:20:04

My first computer I used regularly was a VAIO laptop running Windows 2000. The UI for Windows was quite similar to the UI for Windows today. There’s a desktop with a taskbar. On the taskbar, there’s a start menu, quick access icons, and a notification area. The applications on it were also quite similar to what we have today: internet explorer, Microsoft office, and IM clients.

Even though a lot of features were similar, a deeper look at it reveals that a lot has changed over the past decade or so. With more powerful computers, modern interfaces are a lot fancier. For example, Windows introduced the Aero theme, where the system UI can become transparent. For the taskbar, Windows 7 introduced the Superbar, a highly interactive taskbar, which many of us Windows users take for granted nowadays. With the introduction of Windows 8, Windows have moved toward a more touch-screen based operation system by introducing the Metro UI.

In regards to applications, there was only one real Internet browser back in the day. Now, we can choose between Safari, Firefox, Chrome, their forks, and IE. It’s the same situation for office suites. Back then, we only had Microsoft Office, but now we can use OpenOffice as well as the web-based Google Documents. Speaking of Google Documents, a lot of our applications have moved from being native to being web-based. The whole atmosphere of computing interaction has really changed.

Comparing these features to Myers’ history of user interfaces, the core elements of Windows have already existed in the form of toolkits and in the form of a Windowing interfaces. Touch screen interfaces, however, have existed in the form of research back then. Nonetheless, the very specific features I’ve mentioned have not yet existed as they are not necessarily revolutionary (which research tends to focus on), but rather nice additions to the basics. The same is for the set of applications I mentioned: they are all just improvements on existing technology.


Jeffrey Butterfield - 4/14/2014 23:38:59

When I was 6 or 7 years old, I began to use my family computer, which ran Windows 95. This system obviously had the rudimental interface components such as a window system and mouse pointer. Windows 95 also had a desktop, start menu, screen saver, file explorer, and recycling bin—all operating system components that have been included in Windows even up to the most recent Windows 8.1 iteration.

What Windows 95 did not have was convenient global search capabilities in the form of a search bar on the start menu. It did not support video input from webcams or include software to handle such input for movie making or video chatting. There was a web browser, but online videos were either nonexistent or very rare and painfully slow to buffer. There were no respectable 3D graphics on that first computer, and it obviously did not support touch gesture recognition and stylus input like my current computer does. Finally, there was no type of language processing capabilities like those available for today’s smartphones (Siri, Google Now, Cortana).

While my family computer back then did not have all the capabilities listed above, many of these topics were well underway in terms of being researched during my childhood in the 1990s. For example, the Movie Manual at the Architecture Machine Group (MIT) was demonstrating the ability to mix video and computer graphics all the way back in 1983. In terms of 3D graphics, government-funded research dated all the way back to the 60s and 70s, including 3D raster graphics research at the University of Utah. Pen input is very old, having been employed by the RAND tablet and 1963 Sketchpad. Finally, speech recognition was also well under way by the time I was using Windows 95. According to the reading, “The fundamental research for speech and natural language understanding and generation has been performed at CMU, MIT, SRI, BBN, IBM, AT&T Bell Labs and BellCore, much of it government funded” by the early 90s and even earlier.


Namkyu Chang - 4/15/2014 15:51:38

<Think back to the first computer you used regularly. Describe the user interface and the applications available on the computer at that time. >

The first computer I ever used was my desktop at home when I was around 6, running Windows on a Pentium processor. My dad helped me create an email address, although in hindsight I have no idea why a 6-year old might need email, as well as buy a few games. As with any Windows machine, the basics of user interface were similar to what I have now; direct manipulation of graphical objects, the mouse, etc. Additionally, applications available at the time were also similar, although they were a more basic version of what I have today, such as text editing (Microsoft Word, Notepad), drawing programs (Paint), spreadsheets (Excel), and video games.

<What important user interfaces aspects and applications that we use today were missing in your first computer?>

From Brad Myer’s paper “A Brief History of Human Computer Interaction Technology,” I can see that most UI aspects and applications have existed even in my computer, but they were much more basic. For example, Microsoft Word did not have as many features nor aesthetically pleasing design, and I had to use Microsoft Paint instead of Adobe Photoshop to edit images.

One application listed by Myers that wasn’t available on my first computer was “Natural language and speech,” and specifically, the understanding and generation of it. With advancement of computer hardware capabilities, I could go to Google and speak my input and have it transformed to English. Such features were not available back in my day.

<Compare your list to Myers' history of user interfaces: did these aspects already exist in research (but not in consumer computers), or were they invented later?>

As previously stated, most of the things on the list were available at the time on a primitive level, except natural language and speech detection. In that sense, all these already existed in research (and consumer products), but not to the degree of sophistication that they are today. According to Myer’s citation page, natural language and speech detection was already being researched back in 1990 (Reddy, D.R., "Speech Recognition by Machine: A Review," in Readings in Speech Recognition, A. Waibel and K.-F. Lee, Editors. 1990, Morgan Kaufmann: San Mateo, CA. pp. 8-38) which means that they just weren’t available in consumer computers at the time.


Eric Hong - 4/15/2014 17:52:43

The first computer I used regularly was a Windows 98 desktop that my father brought home from work. It had a graphical interface with similar application icons and windows menu design as the Windows 7 computer I'm using now, just less aesthetically pleasing. The computer also had mouse input, although it used a mouse ball to detect motion and was a bit less sensitive. In regards to the applications, my first computer had a drawing program (Paint), text editing (Microsoft Word), and games (Solitaire/Minesweeper). However, I did not recall search engines or email applications like we have today, and most "webpages" were text on a plain white background. I do remember hypertext in some of the webpages that linked to other webpages. Another missing application was music players stored and organized your favorite music, as the prominent forms of music storage was CD's and cassette tapes. My first computer from 1998 was already fairly advanced on the timeline of Myers' history of user interfaces. It included all of the basic interaction features mentioned in Myers' article, and was mainly missing in graphical quality and applications. Even the email and multi-media applications already existed in research.


Nicholas Dueber - 4/15/2014 18:46:38

The first computer I used was a Gateway Millenium PC, in the late 90's or early 2000's. I recall that after selecting an application to start up, it would take several minutes for it to boot up. there was very little user feedback after I had selected an option. As for error correction, it was very poor. Once I had selected an application. I had to let the application fully load. If I had selected an application by mistake, and I wanted out of it. There was no way to stop the application from loading (At least not that I recall).

I recall that when I first used a computer, I played a "Winnie the Pooh" game. I also used Paint and MineSweeper. These games all had simple UI's. I would select a mode for Paint, and then draw my master piece. For MineSweeper. I would look at the boxes and then use a quasi-mode to either flag a box or to check a box. The computer was able to handle direct manipulation, text editing, mouse control, spread sheets, and simple video games. However, the following existed in research, but not on the first computer that I used: Gesture Recognition, 3-D, Virtual Reality, and Natural language and speech. The previously mentioned applications are in many consumer computers today. However, advances in virtual reality have become better and better as technology advances with time. The virtual reality machines that exist today such as Oculus Rift are at the fore front of VR.


Ryan Yu - 4/15/2014 18:54:15

The first computer I used was an HP desktop computer that ran Microsoft Windows 95 -- I believe that I used it in the late 1990s. The user interface definitely was not as flashy and aesthetically pleasing as user interfaces are in the present day. It greatly lacked color, and lacked a lot of the things we now take for granted in modern-day user interfaces, such as animations and visuals. Applications that I can remember using in this old computer include Microsoft Word and Microsoft Paint, as well as Internet Explorer. I also distinctly remember playing the built-in solitare game.

Some important user interface aspects that we use today that were missing in this old computer include different types of user input, such as voice and touch. We also have much more advanced media-editing applications in the present, such as motion graphics editors (Final Cut Pro, After Effects), and still media editors (Photoshop).

The aforementioned features above were primarily already in research, but not close to being released to consumer computers; for instance, Myers explains that gesture recognition has been used in commercial CAD systems since the 1970s; however, it was not until the advent of touch screens until they became wildly popular. In the case of touch input, this technology was also still in research, but was primarily government funded.


Jimmy Bao - 4/15/2014 23:39:24

The first computer I used regularly was also the very first computer that my family ever owned. It was a Compaq desktop that was running Windows 98 if I recall correctly. By then, I think a lot of the UI and applications were already there, just wasn't as polished like it is today. Since I was only about 7 years old at the time, my needs on the computer are completely different from what they are today. Back then, all I used on the computer was Microsoft Office, Paint, and built-in games (i.e. Solitaire, Minesweeper, Pinball). The main functionalities of the OS and the computer were definitely, for the most part, already there on that computer and in Windows 98. All the major technologies listed in Myer's article had already existed during that time.


Andrew Chen - 4/15/2014 20:41:20

The computer I first used did not have touch capability, a webcam, 3-D games, a media player, a graphics editing program (Adobe Photoshop), a 3-D computer graphics software (Autodesk Maya), video streaming capability, or WiFi. I don’t believe touch capability falls under gesture recognition, but it did stem from the research thereof. Personal computers didn’t have cameras back then, but the technology existed, and not long after, personal computers began having webcams. There were video games back then, but they were all 2-D. They did already have CAD systems, but hardware was not powerful enough to do realtime 3-D graphics computation for a video game. One of the up-and-coming areas described in the papers was multi-media, and although the PC’s back then did not have much in the way of multimedia, they had already been doing research on it. Not long after came media player applications and audio/video streaming on the browser. Although the first computer I used did not have many of the features of today's computers, a lot of the features were being researched and developed.


Steven Pham - 4/15/2014 22:39:38

My first experience with a computer was Windows 95. It had basic games, a calculator, and AOL. Everything came with a manual so you would have to refer to a manual to figure out how to do things. The UI wasn't that intuitive to me at the time. One of the most important missing that we have in todays computers is auto-save. The Word processor that came with Windows 95 and the OS itself was prone to errors. Things would often get lost.


lisa li - 4/16/2014 0:12:54

The first computer I used regularly was a old-style desktop operating on Windows 95/97. It has a typical Windows interface with the Mouse. The applications available were drawing programs, text editing, spreadsheets, HyperText.

Comparing to the computer I use today, the basic Windows interface still remain unchanged but have several user experience related upgrades. Also, touchpads are widely used today instead of mouses. As for application, the variety of applications increased greatly. There are so many new types of application that are available nowadays.

According to Myer's history of user interfaces, these aspects are usually first included in university researches and then corporate research start to have these aspects. Commercial products are usually the last to include these aspects.



Aayush Dawra - 4/16/2014 0:45:46

The first computer that I used was a Windows 95 PC in my father's office in India back in the late 90s. My interaction was mostly limited to playing video games on the computer, like Age of Empires and Chess. As far as the interface of that PC was concerned, it lacked a high quality display like the ones that are readily available these days and instead had a low resolution hard to read display which really limited its utility for productive tasks, which was one of the key reasons that my father did not utilize it enough back then and I got a chance to use it often. Another key component that was missing in the PC was the webcam which, again, is readily available in most modern day computers. Although I was accustomed to using mice and keyboard back then, these components were far more rudimentary than their modern day counterparts which are now readily available in wireless versions.

Both these components (webcams and wireless keyboards/mice) were not available in customer computers back then but were definitely prevalent in research at the time. Another component of modern day user interfaces is the touch screen that is available to consumers today, in the form of iPhones, iPads and Tablet PC, wasn't heard of back then in consumer computers but that too was prevalent in research at the time, although in far more scarcity than the other components mentioned before.


Anju Thomas - 4/16/2014 0:54:40

Describe the user interface and the applications available on the computer at that time. What important user interfaces aspects and applications that we use today were missing in your first computer? Compare your list to Myers' history of user interfaces: did these aspects already exist in research (but not in consumer computers), or were they invented later?’

The first computer that I began using regularly is probably Windows 2000. The computer user interface was not too different from the modern ones, however there are some stark changes that have change the way users interact with their computers. For instance, my old computer had the usual start icon and desktop icons like many of today’s computers still do. However, compared to the latest windows 8 that I currently use or other newest versions, the hardware as well as the software interface is different. My previous desktop computer was more of a box shaped object that was fairly heavy and was larger in size. It had a fairly simple design. Whereas in today’s computer, the desktops as well as the laptops are pretty designed to be very lightweight and more attractive. For instance, the newest MAC book pros are fairly the size of a thin book.

When comparing the difference in software interfaces, the previous computer had a simple start icon where the users choose an option. In Windows 8, however, the users have different options. Using the windows button on the laptop, the users are displayed with a wide range of applications. Rather than searching, the large image icons make it more easier to access a commonly used application. Althought the previous start icon does not appear anymore, the users can instead simply drag the cursor to the side of the screen to find a search bar. Rather than having to click on a specific icon, the user can now move the cursor to anywhere on the righ side of the screen, putting Fitt’s law into use increasing the accessibility by using a larger target size.

Rather than the restricted use of keyboards for the older versions, the newer Windows 8 also offers a touch keypad on the screen which not only allows the users to enter in characters through touch, but also allows the user to write using their hands, which later gets converted to type font. The interface enables the user to use the skills of pen and paper in the existing interface.

The modern computers also provide the touch screen option that allows users to use the affordance of a screen to easily interact with the interface. The users can now simply scroll by swiping their hands vertically anywhere on the screen rather than find a fixed and smaller width target on the screen. Rather than using the back button as in the older version, the user can simply swipe their from left to right to see the previous page, similar to flipping pages. This allows easier access and interaction for the users.

Similarly the applications available in previous computers were more restrictive. For instance paint application though still similar had fewer options that the more advanced applications today, as in photoshop and rhino rendering software. The older version were more often used to play games, such as racing or other EA games rather than more advanced and multiplayer online games available today such as an online chess game with live players. Video conferencing applications such as Skype, Google Hangouts, Screensharing seemed almost non existent.Similarly emails were predominant in the previous computers, instead of collaboration documents such as google documents.

Compared to Myer’s list of user interfaces, gesture recognition was previously researched although, they are more used in the newer computer softwares. Many newer applications such as photoshop, google docs, multimedia, and google spreadsheets seems to come from the research although there is a major transformation in their modern functionality and design.



Steven Wu - 4/16/2014 0:55:54

My first computer was a Windows 95 machine when I was in third or fourth grade. Many of the GUI features on today's operating systems existed then too. There were desktops, windows, folders etc. Navigating from the start menu still exists to this date.

But what was missing from my first computer was the ability to connect to the Internet seamlessly. Back then, I would need to open an MSN application, provide my login credentials and wait for the cacophonous sound of connecting to the dial-up internet. The UI to all of this was just cumbersome as it required the user to know how to access the internet in a procedural manner. These days internet connections are either plug and play sets ups via ethernet or require a one time configuration from your computer's settings.

Another key aspect that was missing was the lack of a gesture trackpad, today's users take for granted on laptops. A mouse and keyboard set up was all that was offered and you were considered fancy if you had a click wheel on your mouse. The closest research I can compare this to on Myers' history would be the gesture control and recognition system that was first implemented in 1963. These novelties in research and development were probably not fully commercialized with hand tracking until much later since the research had previously restricted itself to specific pen gestures in the 1980s.


Sergio Macias - 4/16/2014 1:32:27

I got my first personal computer in 2006. I was 13 at the time. If you were to compare my first computer, which used Windows XP, to my current laptop, one would immediately notice a myriad of differences, but there will also be many similarities. So while there is a sense of comfort with resemblance of the old system, there are many subtle and outright changes that let you easily distinguish the two. One of the main differences between the UI of the two is how you are able to scan through a list of opened screens. The older method was to have another temp screen pop up in which each window had its own tile with the name of that specific window at the top of the main window. While my new computer has this similar old method as well, the new, more visually appealing method removes everything from the screen and puts the opened windows in a line in which each window is at an angle so that you are able to see the currently selected windows and the windows following it. This allows you to go through each window and seemingly cycle through the windows themselves instead of tile representatives of the windows in question. While the newer version does not offer a more efficient way to cycle through the windows, it is obvious that the newer method is much more visually appealing than the old method. One of the biggest differences in the UI between the two definitely has to be the fact that my new computer supports direct interaction with touch screen. While my old computer allowed me to directly interact with objects (such as files and applications) through the use of a mouse, allowing me to drag and drop folders, my new computer has removed a barrier from that process, i.e. the mouse, to allow to feel as though I am truly directly interacting with the files and objects on my computer screen. I feel that this feature bridges a gap between the virtual reality present within my computer and my own reality, which allows for a whole new level of immersive-ness. The task switcher (the first feature I talked about) has been around probably since the beginning of “Windows” research since the feature of switching between windows quickly is such a necessary and useful feature. The touch screen feature could be categorized under the “Direct Manipulation of Graphical Objects”. Even though that feature was not present within my first computer, the idea and implementation of touch screens had been around for quite some time; a quick google search indicates that touch screens were available to consumers on a wide scale since 2006 with the release of JazzMutant’s Lemur, a music controller with a multi-touch screen interface.


Gregory Quan - 4/16/2014 8:13:57

The first computer I used regularly was an Intel 486-based PC running MS DOS and eventually Windows 3.1. It had an enhanced version of DOS called DOS Shell, which was a very simple GUI that allowed navigation through the file system with a mouse. Using DOS Shell, it was more or less impossible to run two programs at once, and the hardware probably could not have kept up even if it was possible. There was no concept of windowed applications in DOS Shell. This feature already existed on the Apple Macintosh at the time, and of course, Windows 3.1 had this feature as well. There was no internet, 3D graphics, or gesture/touch interaction on this computer, although all of these features were being researched at the time (touch interaction was not mentioned in Myer’s history so I assume it was invented later).


Tien Chang - 4/16/2014 8:22:39

The first computer I used regularly was a Windows XP desktop. Some important user interface aspects and applications that we use today and were missing in the Windows XP include touch screens, motion detection on trackpads, and AeroSnap of windows. Touch screens appear to be invented later, as it is not mentioned in Myers' report. Trackpad detection may have been in research, as gesture recognition is similar close with the use of Sketchpad and light-pen stylus. AeroSnap may not have existed in research yet and may be invented later. This user interface aspect may have been a feature that did not require much research, but personally has been very important to me.


Allison Leong - 4/16/2014 9:21:39

The first computer that I remember using was my parents’ Windows 95 desktop. I used it through the time I was about 10, so I only have vague recollections of the interface. I remember that it had installed on it Microsoft Word, Paint, and pretty much nothing else. It was not set up to go on the internet, so I used it for basic word processing, learning to type, and to make birthday cards in Paint for my family and friends. Even back then it had a GUI interface, with icons that when double-clicked would open the application in a new window. Microsoft Word had minimal functionality back then. There wasn’t even a spell-checker to auto-correct mis-typed words. The mouse and keyboard were the only way to interface with the computer and the mouse didn’t have a scroll wheel yet. Comparing my list to the Myers’history of user interfaces, there was no gesture recognition on that computer, very little multi-media (there was no media player installed), no 3-D capabilities, virtual reality capabilities, no natural language or speech understanding, and no internet for connecting to others. At that time, most of these technologies existed in consumer computers (just not on mine), but many aspects of natural language/speech understanding, and the connectivity of the internet were invented and continued to develop later.


Lauren Speers - 4/16/2014 9:57:29

The first computer I used regularly was a Windows '95 (maybe a '98) desktop machine. Since I was only about 7 years old at the time, I mostly used the device to play computer games installed from CDs. The UI was based on the desktop metaphor and supported mouse-based interactions, windows, and the combination of a start menu with shortcut icons on the desktop. The UI did not include a touchpad or support gestures, like swiping to scroll, that touchpads allow, and it did not support automatic resizing of windows either by dragging the window to the screen boundary or by using shortcut key commands. I believe the computer ran applications such as Microsoft Office (including Word and Excel), Paint, basic games like Minesweeper, and other applications installed from CDs. It did not support internet-based applications like email, instant messaging or video conferencing applications, or photo or video editing software.

Every UI component or technology mentioned by Myers has a history beginning in the 1980s or earlier, so all the UI techniques and applications not included in the first computer I used were, at the very least, already being researched when I was using the ’95 computer. In particular, gesture recognition research began with the RAND tablet in 1963. The World-Wide-Web was created relatively later in 1990, but it is based on HyperText research that was initiated as early as 1945. Computer supported cooperative work, encompassing applications likes email, instant message, and video conferencing, first started with Doug Engelbart’s NLS demonstration in 1968, and the multi-media support underlying photo or video editing software also began 1968 with the FRESS project.


Lauren Speers - 4/16/2014 9:58:59

The first computer I used regularly was a Windows '95 (maybe a '98) desktop machine. Since I was only about 7 years old at the time, I mostly used the device to play computer games installed from CDs. The UI was based on the desktop metaphor and supported mouse-based interactions, windows, and the combination of a start menu with shortcut icons on the desktop. The UI did not include a touchpad or support gestures, like swiping to scroll, that touchpads allow, and it did not support automatic resizing of windows either by dragging the window to the screen boundary or by using shortcut key commands. I believe the computer ran applications such as Microsoft Office (including Word and Excel), Paint, basic games like Minesweeper, and other applications installed from CDs. It did not support internet-based applications like email, instant messaging or video conferencing applications, or photo or video editing software.

Every UI component or technology mentioned by Myers has a history beginning in the 1980s or earlier, so all the UI techniques and applications not included in the first computer I used were, at the very least, already being researched when I was using the ’95 computer. In particular, gesture recognition research began with the RAND tablet in 1963. The World-Wide-Web was created relatively late in 1990, but it is based on HyperText research that was initiated as early as 1945. Computer supported cooperative work, encompassing applications likes email, instant messaging, and video conferencing, first started with Doug Engelbart’s NLS demonstration in 1968, and the multi-media support underlying photo or video editing software also began 1968 with the FRESS project.


Jeffrey DeFond - 4/16/2014 10:00:52

My first memories of a computer were from around '93-94 when I was very young. My dad would sit me on his lap and play Doom and as be began to realize I was noticing the content of his games, he began to play more interactive text based story games with some graphics for little me to watch (I think he decided killing Demon Hitler may not have been the best story line for a young child so he switched to various fairytale games, but I still remember Doom the most vividly (good design)). Both my parents had work experience as accountants, and as a result both were fairly computer savvy particularly considering that computers were not technically their professional focus. But we when I was young we had two computers in the house, one for my fathers work, (this got switched out often (by work)) and the family desktop that sat in the family room. Windows 95, beige box. It was huge, and noisy, this was mostly before video streaming services like youtube.com were big, and when they were they were ad free.

     Essentially the desktop had MsWord for text editing, InternetExplorer (I was young, I didn't know...) for browsing, and we had a few games as well. Compared to Myers list, my computational experience in the 90s fits in pretty will with what Myers claims was commercially available, as for the future, I think Myers should write a whole section on "the cloud", to describe the slow and painful process by which the lay-person is beginning to come to terms with and utilize this relatively newly widely available phenomenon. 


Everardo Barriga - 4/16/2014 11:39:04

I believe the first computer I used regularly was a Dell with Windows 98. I used it mainly to play games or draw occasionally. The interface of these applications had everything that the article mentions windows, mouse control, not sure about direct manipulation. What was missing in my first computer were subtle but nuanced UI enhancements that make my experience much richer today. For example I can do a 3-finger gesture control that shows all of the windows I have open at the time, or I can move my cursor to a corner of my screen and have all of my windows disappear. I have more control over the manipulation and handling of windows which I think is something that I use rather extensively. It doesn’t look like these specific features were mentioned in the article and were perhaps developed later. 


Rico Ardisyah - 4/16/2014 11:03:56

My first computer I used regularly was a Windows 98 machine. It was a big desktop PC. Comparing to desktop today, it was much bigger. The screen is not flat; however, it has almost all the hardwares in today's PC. The UI was similar to Windows 7, but it was the clunkier version. It lacks of sensitivity, 3D graphic, and minimalist design. Programs that I used the most was Internet Browser, Microsoft office suite, and games. Back then, the browser does not support multi-tab, and it has awkward big toolbar button on the top. Microsoft office suite does not really change too much, however I don't like the feedback feature that they use back then, which is a talking paper clip. It was annoying and users cannot close it. Most games that I played on my first computer did not support 3D graphic, and it does not support multi player. The UI for games has improved a lot compared to today. In the Myers' list, these were in active research time.


Emon Motamedi - 4/16/2014 12:58:02

The first computer I can remember using regularly had Windows 95 as the operating system. Interestingly, my conception of the user interface of that computer is actually fairly similar to my more recent usage of the Windows OS (Windows XP). The 95 UI created the foundation of how I pictured a computer being used and its dynamic became very much engrained within me.

The user interface consisted of a desktop, which had the majority of my most used applications. There was a "Start" button on the bottom left, from which I could access my control panel to view settings or go into all programs to see a list of all the programs my computer had installed on it. If a program was opened, a rectangular indicator would appear on the bar at bottom of the screen, and I could minimize or open windows by clicking on that indicator. Each screen also had minimize, maximize, and close options on the top left.

The two main applications I personally can remember using on that computer were Paint and Minesweeper. Paint became the avenue for my creative output, allowing me to draw different figures to my heart's content. Minesweeper was the same Minesweeper it always has been, an incredibly addictive and strategic game that I struggled through the levels of.

Thinking about Paint, I realize that the most widely used and similar application to Paint today is Photoshop. This brings up an important absence in the Paint application. Users were not able to take a photo from their computer (unless they had a webcam) and I do not remember being able to import photos from my computer into that version of Paint (this very well could be due to my lack of memory and not lack of functionality in the application). Another missing feature was speech-to-text recognition, as today's computers all have some sort of a verbal input functionality. Finally, I could not use multiple desktops on that computer, a feature I very much enjoy on my Mac.

Looking at Myers' list, I see that it references drawing programs and how they were started around 1963. It is evident that around the time of usage I am describing they existed in consumer computers, and the fact that they have been around for so long makes me feel that my Paint application must have had import functionality. Speech-to-text is somewhat described in the "Natural Language and Speech" section, and it appears as though this aspect only existed in government research. Finally, I could not find a reference to multiple desktops, but I imagine that this functionality would not have been too hard to produce at the time and would have been implemented had its need been recognized.


Emily Reinhold - 4/16/2014 13:48:56

I believe the first computer I ever used was an eMac around second grade (1999). The user interface had a bubbly design, in that icons were bloated and colorful. It had all of the typical applications (Microsoft Office, text editors, Safari internet, etc.). Since the resolution on the screen was lower, the application toolbars had fewer options shown at any given time (since each feature/text segment took up more space on the low resolution screen). The eMac already had multimedia -- we primarily used the computers for practicing typing. We used a program called "Paws", which incorporated text, graphics, and speech. We used a keyboard and mouse, like regular desktop computers today.

The most memorable aspect of the user interface/applications that I thought was missing was complex gesture recognition. Modern computer trackpads (on Macbooks, for example) support a wide variety of gestures that improve the ease of navigation through the user interface. These types of gestures were not available in the first computers I used. Myers' history of user interfaces indicates that gesture recognition was available in commercial products around 1976, but I did not see supported gesture recognition in the eMacs. He also deemed gesture recognition an up-and-comping field when the article was written in 1996, which I would agree with. Post 1999 when I first used computers regularly, gesture recognition has become much more robust and widely used.

Further, there were not many collaboration softwares available (like Google Docs, github, etc.). These softwares would become very important for efficient group work, especially in software. Version control systems are a necessity in today's software development world. Myers predicted that collaboration softwares would become important post 1996, which seems to have held true.

Note: I am sorry for my lackluster response, but the first computer I used was very similar to the computers I use today because I am young :P



Peter Wysinski - 4/16/2014 13:55:48

The first computer I used regularly was a Pentium II machine running Windows 95. It had a variety of applications ranging form ‘Word’ for text editing to ‘Paint’ for creating drawings. The text editing program that the computer ran was unable to present changes to the user in real time. Unlike the computers we have today, it could not change attributes of the text such as font and size without presenting a loading bar to the user. As a result of this I was often discouraged from experimenting with different layouts and styles of text. Furthermore, the editor had a tendency to crash frequently which resulted in me pressing Control-S impulsively every five minutes — having software auto sync everything to the ‘cloud’ was unimaginable at the time. While the computer did have a web browser, it was not capable of rendering interactive pages and sites had to depend on the Adobe Shockwave Player to render any sorts of media rich content. Real-time browser based collaboration software such as Google Docs was not possible with the web standards that existed back then, the internet existed simply as a concept as not much flexibility was given by the software and the baud modems it was designed for. Although gesture recognition and multi-media applications of computers did exist in research, home machines were nowhere close to performing such tasks. It was unimaginable for a computer to play back a non-pixelated video from a local disk or to have a touch screen/ gesture driven interface. Actions that a user wanted the computer to perform had to be explicit and required the user to have training. An interface could not be figured out just my playing around with the software, a user had to flip open the hundred page manual that came with the boxed software to figure out how to operate it.


Alexander Chen - 4/16/2014 13:55:40

The first computer that I used regularly was a desktop computer running windows 98. When Dad brought the computer home, we didn't have a space for it, so it was placed at the end of our dinner table. The enormous CRT display, which only had a diagonal of 15" stood out blatantly in the room.

At that time, I was only 5 year old, and my favorite application was some Mickey themed educational game. I recall opening the "Run" dialog, searching the history for the "start mickey" command that Dad had typed for me, and pressing "Run." We didn't have internet at the time and I was too young to be mastering spreadsheets or finishing a best-selling novel in the text editor program.

My second and first explorational experience with a computer was in January of 2011. I firing up the Dell desktop for the first time and noticing the new blue-centric theme of Windows XP. It was a nice departure from the squarish and grey windows of the previous Windows operating systems. At that time, one of the biggest differences was the lack of gesture based interactions. For example, on my Macintosh machine, the trackpad allows for "natural scrolling", an experience similar to panning an object around. This trumps the scroll wheel of that Dell mouse, which was already better than having to drag the scrollbar to navigate in a page.

Other applications that were missing are mostly the social and collaborative applications. For example, I didn't have any instant messaging client on the Dell. I didn't have the ability to collaborate with other students on the same document, like we can today, with Google Documents. Collaboration meant that we would sitting behind the same computer screen at the same time: same place- same time. Only with the internet boom and extensive development in CSCW that was now achieve different place, same time collaboration efficiently.

The interfaces Meyers mentioned were mostly. present at some level in my first "white box" computer. Mice, windows, text-editing, and hypertext. Today the biggest difference is the implementation of more gestures which are recognizable on a multitouch trackpad. On tablet computers, DMI have made these devices more portable (no keyboard or mice required).

Myer's was accurate about the future development of CSCW. Today, there are so many applications that try to make collaboration online easier. Video calling, screen sharing, online meetings, collaborative documents, public task trackers, etc.


Gavin Chu - 4/16/2014 13:58:12

The first computer I remember using regularly is a PC running Windows 2000 in 8th grade (2007). I mainly used to computer to type up reports on Word and playing video games such as Maple Story. I did use Skype occasionally to talk to my grandparents, so webcams and mic were widely available. One thing that was missing from my first computer is a wireless mouse. Wireless keyboards/mouse/webcams were available as consumer products, but I think they were pretty expensive back in 2007. Another tool that was missing was a drawing tablet. I currently have a Bamboo Tablet that allows me to draw precisely on drawing programs such as Photoshop. This addition really improved the usability of drawing programs. This technology was also already available. Another thing that was missing was face-recognition/face-tracking webcams. This technology is embedded in many devices today, especially in cameras.


Shana Hu - 4/16/2014 14:08:31

One of the first computers I used regularly ran an early version of windows in which programs were limited. The visual aesthetic of the user interface was gray and pixelated, and the bottom of the screen had a start bar. I believe the start button had a border around it which made it tough to take advantage of the corner of the screen using fitt's law. Web browsers required using dial-up, and connecting to the internet was often slow. The computer used a single handheld mouse with a physical ball inside to track motion. Many applications were missing. More advanced drawing programs available today were not present. Instead, there was an early version of Microsoft Paint. Whereas advanced drawing programs such as in the Adobe Creative Suite primarily offer direct manipulation, at the time, this was not in commercial programs like MS Paint. However, according to Myers' history of user interfaces, direct manipulation was being explored in research at the time and had also made its way into some but not all commercial products


Seth Anderson - 4/16/2014 14:08:51

The first computer I used regularly had many of the features described in the article: manipulation of graphical objects on the Desktop, a mouse, windows, text editing, and, most importantly to me at the time, videogames.

One of the more important features used today that was not on that old computer was autocorrect and language detection. Typos would be notified with a squiggly red line in the text editor, but they would not be changed. A second important feature we have today is touchpad gesture recognition, allowing us to easily swipe between windows.

Looking back at the article, it seems that both of these existed in research far before I used my first computer, but were not implemented in my consumer product at least until much later.


Prashan Dharmasena - 4/16/2014 14:18:18

I began using a computer regularly to play video games when I was around 6 or 7 (so 2001/2002), so the computer I used had Windows XP on it (though I can remember using Netscape on Windows 98 vaguely). The only major differences I can think of between XP and Win8 user-interface wise is the touch-screen support in Windows 8 and multitouch gestures (on both the screen and touchpad). Myers' history was written in 1996, only a year after I was born. Most of the technology described by Myers was in consumer PCs by the time I was using one regularly (with the exception of maybe Virtual/Augmented Reality and Natural Language Processing). Though, Nintendo did release the Virtual Boy in 1995. But Virtual/Augmented Reality is only becoming more popular nowadays with Oculus and Sony developing their own VR headsets. Google has also developed different games that involve augmented reality. Myers does mention research into touch-input and gesture recognition as early as 1963 with SketchPad. So touchpads were in development, and the first touch screen was developed in 1982.


Justin Chan - 4/16/2014 14:55:43

The first computer I used regularly was the computer in the children’s section of the library. This was a computer that you had to reserve beforehand to use and one whose sole purpose (according to me) was to explore the Oregon Trail. Honestly, my memory of that computer is a bit fuzzy, but I’m fairly sure it was a Mac.

The user interface – unsurprisingly – was somewhat similar to the user interface in front of me on my MacBook Air. Now that I think back on it, I can clearly see the building blocks for the current version of Mac OS X. The menu bar is on the top with the iconic Apple logo in the top left corner, the desktop is icon-based, etc. Obviously, the graphics are complete crap compared to today’s computers, but you can clearly see the vision Apple had for their UI, and it’s one that they have worked hard to refine over the years.

In terms of actual applications, the “old” computer definitively had a text editor, video games, and drawing programs, though I spent way more time using the latter two. I would assume that it also had spreadsheets and Internet, but those are things I never saw or used (can you believe life today with no Internet…sheesh...). I don’t think this old Mac had CAD.

In terms of Myer’s “up-and-coming areas,” I don’t think I saw any indication of those features on the computer. The only thing close would be 3-D graphics, which developers tried their best to emulate with 2-D graphics. Clearly, these were all in research but had not yet made their way to commercial computers.


Sang Ho Lee - 4/16/2014 14:22:23

The first computer I used regularly was a PC running Windows 98 on a 300 MHz Intel III processor. The user interface was much like the Windows of today (before Windows 8) with a fully graphical user interface based of windowing, direct manipulation of graphical icons using mouse and keyboard, and multimedia functionality. Important aspects such as multi-touch gesture recognition and rich web applications were missing in my first computer. Multi-touch gesture recognition, or at the very least simple gesture recognition most certainly existed in academic research and corporate research frameworks since the 60s, as well as a few consumer tablet devices such as the Apple Newton. However, because of poor touch recognition hardware (based on resistive technology rather than capacitive), multi-touch gesture recognition could have been incorporated into consumer user interface products at the time of my first computer. The Internet itself was still in its early stages, with most people relying on dial-up to access mostly static text and images on the Internet. Because sufficiently fast and persistent connections to the Internet had not been widespread yet, and the technology to deliver high quality multimedia over the Internet had actually not been invented yet, the user interfaces of the time for web browsers (Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator, etc) were sufficiently useful for users. Moreover, the important basic functionality of those web browsers have carried over into the modern web browser, such as the address bar and bookmarks.


Anthony Sutardja - 4/16/2014 14:55:50

I remember that I used to use computers regularly as a kid in elementary school. Back then, all the computers in our household were with big and clunky, and the only use I had for them was to check into my online game accounts.

An important user interface aspect that we use today that didn't exist in the computers I used back then are multitouch trackpads. Back then, all mouse interactions were guided by a mouse. However, now we effortlessly navigate our computers with our multitrack touch pads. The interaction has changed from simple directional movements to multitouch gestures that have meaning within the context of particular applications. Myers notes that gesture research started with ARPA in 1963 and had been in development in a while. However, its widespread use is only prevalent within the past few years.

Another widespread user interface aspect that has been adopted by many common technologies now is natural language and speech recognition. Myers notes that research on this topic began really early, but very little products have integrated it until the past few years. Now Apple's Siri, Google Now, and Microsoft's Cortana make use of speech recognition as part of every day tasks.

One aspect that Myers didn't note was the use of multitouch displays. Although I am not sure when research on this began (I have read that Apple tried to make an iPad-like device back in the 90's), the touch-screen display really only took off when mobile phones adopted them in the late 2000's.


Sol Han - 4/16/2014 15:08:20

My first computer was the Windows '98 desktop computer, which I have a vague memory of. I remember that the Start menu was rather primitive at the time; it did not list commonly/recently used applications prominently like newer OSs. The Internet lacked a lot of features, such as tabs (over windows) and real-time collaborative tools (like Google Docs). The applications (MS Paint, etc.) had uglier and more limiting UIs. I remember Microsoft Word and its limited data recovery tools when the program would crash; this made typing assignments a nightmare. Overall, the user interface was very dry and unappealing (e.g., the default background was the blank teal screen; graphics were poor).

Myers discusses computer-supported cooperative work as an area of research. While email did exist back in the 90s, it lacked a lot of the aspects that make real-time interaction a means of productive group collaboration. Much improvements in graphics, especially 3D, were also being made during that time. The same goes for natural language processing. Furthermore, gesture recognition is one major area of research being carried at that time that was limited in consumer computers; I only recall using the mouse and keyboard for inputs.


Juan Pablo Hurtado - 4/16/2014 15:26:45

I used a Windows 95 Packard Bell and the interesting thing is that came with Packard Bell navigator, a software that was on top of the OS. The interesting thing is that it used real objects to communicate what each application does. They really tried to bring the direct object manipulation to the real world.

If I remembered well, my computer had all the basic stuff like mouse, keyboard, windows, direct manipulation of graphical objects, etc... I'm not sure about hypertext, maybe it was still in research.

I'm almost sure that it didn't had any kind of gesture recognition, natural language and speech, virtual reality and 3-D. And I think that generally speaking they were on research or in a very small group of consumer computers.

Have in mind that I'm from Chile, where technology is always behind a couple of years.


Brenton Dano - 4/16/2014 15:27:41

Think back to the first computer you used regularly. Describe the user interface and the applications available on the computer at that time

The first computer I used was the purple iMac (the one that was shaped like an egg that had the Bug's Life game preinstalled on it). I mainly used it for checking my Yahoo email, chatting on AIM, and playing Unreal Tournament 1 a first person shooter game. I think I used it for Microsoft Word too. The user interface was okay and I remember at the time the UI for Macs was a lot better than PCs. I don't remember all the specifics of the UI since it was such a long time ago. I do remember that there was a weird dock like thing at the bottom that was not quite a dock. You click it from the left side and it stretches out.

macos90-1-1.png

I remember that when we had to connect to the dial up internet using this feature and there was really annoying static sounds that came out of the computer when that happened. Perhaps, that was how dubstep was invented. Another UI component was the trash can where you would throw away stuff you didn't want and where you could eject the CD.

I also used a mouse to control the computer and keyboard.

What important user interfaces aspects and applications that we use today were missing in your first computer?

OS 9 didn't have the Dock idea or "Launchpad" which the newest Mac OS have in them. Also, for the internet instead of using dial up people have airport cards. You have to click on the signal icon and connect your computer to a wireless hotspot to get on the internet which is a lot easier and less frustrating than using dialup. Now the trashcan is no longer on the desktop it is placed on the dock. Also, it's not mandatory anymore to have your "Macintosh HD" show up on your desktop.

I use Google Chrome for a web browser which wasn't around at the time I had my first computer. I think I used Netscape Navigator back then...

Now I use both a mouse (sometimes) and a touchpad plus keyboard to control my computer. I also have the capabilities to do a bunch of different swiping gestures for different actions.

Compare your list to Myers' history of user interfaces: did these aspects already exist in research (but not in consumer computers), or were they invented later?

Pretty much all the aspects I discussed are present in the paper. The paper was written in 1996 and the iMac G3 came out in 1999 so it makes sense that by then all the features mentioned in the paper were implemented in the iMac. To be more specific, the iMac comes with a "The Mouse", "Windows", and has "Direct Manipulation of graphical objects" aka when you drag files around and stick them in different folders. My iMac G3 also had text editing, drawing programs, spreadsheets (excel), and hypertext (because I remember having a web browser).. I also had video games! :)


Munim Ali - 4/16/2014 15:30:26

The first computer I used regularly ran the Window 95 operating system. To a certain extent the UI was pretty similar to recent Microsoft releases, for example users could switch between windows to alternate tasks, task bars and menu bars existed back then as they do now. Some of the applications available at that time were MSPaint (a painting/sketching application), web browsers like Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator, MSOffice (word processor + presentation software + spreadsheet software + more utilities), and of course games.

Some of the important UI aspects/applications that we use today, but were missing in my first computer include things like gesture recognition (which I was surprised to find was already being used in research since 1963), webcams (in-built or external), there was no speech processing (which was still present in the research community).


Erik Bartlett - 4/16/2014 15:40:29

The first computer I used regularly was the original Macintosh from Apple. It had essentially the same user interface of most desktops/laptops today. There was a keyboard and mouse for navigation and typing. The Screen was a WYSIWYG with desktop icons to click on and a trash bin to drag and drop things into. As far as applications go, I basically only used the text editor application and the built in Bird Race game (quite possibly the greatest game I've ever played).

I don't remember there being a home button or screen (like the window's start button) or any real way to search through the applications, there could have been but I don't remember it distinctly. There was no internet browser to speak of, which would be insane to not have now. There was no word document editor or presentation editor (Different from a Text Editor).

In his history, Myers’ doesn’t really talk about searching through the contents or a home button (I feel like it was just a logical progression in the functionality of an operating system, as it would have taken a (relatively) lot of computing power to do the search on that machine). The HyperText markup language was already invented when I was using the computer (Mid 1990’s), and the World-Wide-Web was already in production. The word document/presentation editing (Xcel, Word, etc) were apparently also already in development in Research.


I don't remember there being a home button or screen (like the window's start button) or any real way to search through the applications, there could have been but I don't remember it distinctly. There was no internet browser to speak of, which would be insane to not have now. I also remember much less color in the interface - along with a much smaller screen and slower response times.


Erik Bartlett - 4/16/2014 15:40:29

The first computer I user regularly was the original Macintosh from Apple. It had essentially the same user interface of most desktops/laptops today. There was a keyboard and mouse for navigation and typing. The Screen was a WYSIWYG with desktop icons to click on and a trash bin to drag and drop things into. As far as applications go, I basically only used the text editor application and the built in Bird Race game (quite possibly the greatest game I've ever played).

I don't remember there being a home button or screen (like the window's start button) or any real way to search through the applications, there could have been but I don't remember it distinctly. There was no internet browser to speak of, which would be insane to not have now. There was no word document editor or presentation editor (Different from a Text Editor).

In his history, Myers’ doesn’t really talk about searching through the contents or a home button (I feel like it was just a logical progression in the functionality of an operating system, as it would have taken a (relatively) lot of computing power to do the search on that machine). The HyperText markup language was already invented when I was using the computer (Mid 1990’s), and the World-Wide-Web was already in production. The word document/presentation editing (Xcel, Word, etc) were apparently also already in development in Research.


I don't remember there being a home button or screen (like the window's start button) or any real way to search through the applications, there could have been but I don't remember it distinctly. There was no internet browser to speak of, which would be insane to not have now. I also remember much less color in the interface - along with a much smaller screen and slower response times.


Armando Mota - 4/16/2014 15:43:14

The first computer I used regularly was at my elementary school in the early 90’s. I don’t remember too much about it besides playing Oregon Trail every now and then, so I’ll speak about the PC my family had in my house when I was roughly 14-18 years old, between 1999 and 2003. The interface was quite simple - there were not a lot of icons cluttering it and honestly the start menu was the biggest attraction, the big go-to. It didn't behave that differently than the start bar of Windows version before 7. That said, there weren’t as many icons that could be cluttering it - the amount of multimedia programs (video editing, photo viewing, music listening) were very sparse (this could have been down to its use in my family as a very basic tool) My father bought Command and Conquer for it, and I remember playing that often. I also played a game called Dr. Brain quite often. Even now in my memory, the graphics didn’t seem that bad and the interactivity wasn’t too laggy, but I might change my mind if I were to see it today. We had dial up internet, which was painfully slow. My father did do word processing on it, and when I became a sophomore I started to use it to write documents as well. Windows 95 was the OS I believe, so whatever Microsoft Works package came with that OS, we had. Boot up and shutdown times were long. What do we have today that was missing? video editing there was paint, and you could modify certain graphics, but I’m not sure there was a dedicated photo editing app web apps dedicated music library apps powerpoint (this might have been there but I don’t ever remember using it or it being used at that time) or keynote touch screen gesture recognition voice recognition skype instant messaging

Which of these already existed in research? All of the items that were missing then already existed in research, and it looks like they all were also commercially available. It’s almost staggering how much of it was done in the 60’s. Obviously my home computer setup wasn’t the top of the line, and didn’t display the latest and greatest technologies on it. My family was middle class, and could probably afford a good, but not great, computer setup. So it makes sense that many of the things my computer was missing were actually already available in the market. Being young at the time, I also was not a consumer, and wouldn’t have been aware of the products that were available because I wouldn’t be buying any. That being said, I feel like I was in contact with computers right before the internet blew up - that is, right before the world became so connected it would be impossible to imagine daily life without it. I’m not sure what children today experience - they certainly know more about tech than I did at the same age.


Ziran Shang - 4/16/2014 15:51:15

The first computer I used regularly was an old Dell laptop that ran Windows XP. At this time there were quite a few applications available including applications for word processing, drawing, and browsing the internet. The user interface was fairly similar to the Windows interface up until fairly recently, with a desktop and task bar. Some important applications that we use today that were not available back then are Skype and similar software, an app store to browse software, and cloud storage programs like Dropbox. Also, gestures were generally nonexistent back then, being limited to tap to click, whereas today there is scrolling, pinch zooming and other functionality on laptop touch pads.

According to Myers, gesture recognition was already being researched in the 1960s, as was conferencing systems. Myers makes no mention of cloud storage, however it appears that cloud storage was also being researched in that time period.


Brian Yin - 4/16/2014 16:04:44

The computer I used regularly was running Windows XP. The user interface allowed direct manipulation of objects on the desktop. It also included windows to browse the file system. Applications I used included Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, internet browsers, and games.

Some user interfaces now include touch-screens (such as in Microsoft Surfaces). Also, sound and video input was not readily built into computers, which required additional components such as microphones and webcams.

Touchscreens during this time existed in research and some products included them (i.e palm pilots), but they were not readily adopted into many computers. Built in sound and video input also existed in the research sphere, but were not widely used in applications.


Doug Cook - 4/16/2014 16:06:03

The first computer I used regularly was a (now defunct) Compaq desktop that ran Windows 98. The interface provided by the OS is recognizable as a less polished version of what many of today’s systems run: a task bar across the bottom of the screen with buttons, the traditional “desktop” metaphor of files and folders, and a windowed hierarchy for applications to run in. All of Myers’ basic interactions were present: direct manipulation was possible through use of the mouse and keyboard, the mouse worked similarly to those today, and the OS provided a window system to organize each app interface. All of the application types under section (3) were also present, with new CAD and 3D video games just becoming popular on PCs around that time. Programs such as Paint and Photoshop facilitated drawing while Microsoft’s Office suite allowed text editing and spreadsheet manipulation.

Missing from this experience were natural language processing, effective collaboration tools (Computer Supported Cooperative Work), and gesture recognition. Natural language processing was of course being worked on in University research labs but consumer PCs weren’t capable of that level of processing, and those that tried had horribly clunky interfaces. Speech appeared in accessibility tools (Windows 98 could read aloud text on the screen), but its UI was also a work in progress as it made many mistakes and was difficult to control. Effective collaboration tools had been present and used in research settings for a long time, but even Myers notes that this aspect didn’t really take off without advances in computer networking (and the world wide web was still in its dial-up days at this time). Gesture recognition was completely missing from my first computer because it had absolutely no means of detecting gestures. In contrast with today’s trackpads and “smart” mouses, the primitive mouse on my PC was the limit at the time. Some gesture recognition was implemented in digital tablets but the ones available were far too expensive for my family. Again, this aspect existed in research (and had for a long time) but it was just gaining traction in the consumer market and prices were still high.

For all their similarities, the biggest gap between my first computer and the modern ones used today is the user experience. Many of the same principles are at work on today’s UIs as in the past; save for some cool new input methods and obvious advancements made possible by faster hardware. What’s really made the difference is the iteration that interfaces have gone through, resulting in highly responsive and usable applications that better facilitate productivity. This collective improvement has made the entire experience of working on a computer more enjoyable. From Myers’ perspective, one could also attribute this progress to research labs like those here at Cal.


Justin MacMillin - 4/16/2014 16:08:27

The first computer I used regularly was a Windows 98, with the possibly slowest dial up connection known to man at the time. The UI was the basic UI Windows had until Windows 7 (I believe), it looked similar to Windows XP just not nearly as nice. I only used the computer to type Microsoft Word documents, go in the internet, and use AIM instant messenger. Today there are too many applications to list that were missing from my first computer. First off it was difficult to find applications I had never used on there. Now I am able to spotlight search on my Mac, on top of how easy it is to open the ‘Applications’ folder. I can now text message on my computer, store all of my music in an organized way, and store/edit my pictures all in one place. The Windows 98 couldn’t do that, and even if it could and I wasn’t aware, it couldn’t do it like its done today. I remember when virtual machines were just coming out as well, my original computer could not support that. From what I can tell, virtual machines are not on Myers’ list. Although I don’t use sound input features all that often on my desktop, it is nice to know that the capability is there. My Windows 98 certainly did not support voice input, but there definitely existed research for natural language recognition according to Myers.


Insuk Lee - 4/16/2014 16:08:33

When I was in elementary school in Korea, I used a Windows 98 desktop, if I remember correctly, and there were a handful of things I did on the computer. I used to play Starcraft, which took up a lot of my time, and also went onto www.bugs.co.kr to download and listen to music using some of the earliest music players. Other than that, I used Internet Explorer (de facto standard of the time) to surf the web, using kin.naver.com (the first quora or yahoo answers of its time) and various humor forums that were precedents of reddit. There were few applications that were of use to children as young as I was and therefore most of the fun was on the internet. Thinking back, I feel like the user interface was much simpler, and there were less ads on the internet preventing people from clicking on and getting to what they want.

Some of the things that were missing from the computer back in the day but we use today, mainly, is the variation of the choices of applications we can use. I did use music players, video players, browsers, text and image editing softwares, but today there just are a lot more options to choose from. There are at least 3 mainstream browsers today and countless music/video players in the market for the consumers to use. Some things discussed in the up and coming section of his article were definitely unheard of in those days. I did have an experience with a touch-based or pen-based display from my electronic dictionary but things such as 3D systems and virtual reality were largely imaginative to me. The fact that these already had been heavily researched for years before my time surprises me.


Maya Rosecrance - 4/16/2014 16:16:18

The first computer I remember regularly using was a an old Dell that my mother owned in Elementary school. I had a dial up internet connection that took several minutes and only a netscape browser. There were also no internet tabs and the video games were very basic, with no rasterized graphics which were invented earlier. There was also no CAD on the computers but Myer's indicates that the software was available long before it was released to most consumers.


Sangeetha Alagappan - 4/16/2014 16:19:35

The first computer I used regularly was an Intel based Windows 98 machine (I don’t remember the model or any specifics past the interface). It was a bit chunky in design (lots of grey, with tabs, windows and buttons, heavily bordered with a thick bevel effect) but allowed for reasonable personalisation and was quite clear and sufficiently jargon-free enough to understand. The applications available that I used were Paint, Netscape, Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) and Windows Media Player on a machine that supported CD-ROMs and floppy disks and used a standardised mouse and keyboard as input devices. Other applications that were available were mostly word and data processing applications and games (Pinball!). Computers nowadays handle and process a variety of media, more efficiently and easily compared to my first computer. I never watched video on my first computer; merely using it for computation and searching for images online for projects. Dial-up connections prevented the scope of what we could do with computers connected to the Internet. Also, the capability to read USBs is a powerful facility earlier computers didn’t have. Interface-wise, Windows has stayed mostly consistent with multiple tiled windows, icons and WYSIWYG philosophy. On the application front, there has been advances in functionality (more powerful text and image manipulation) while the interface has only moderately evolved. Interfaces have become more user friendly (in terms of clean, flat displays and user support) as computers are now ubiquitous. Computers nowadays have a greater degree of freedom with advances in gesture recognition, voice recognition, direct manipulation devices like the stylus, graphic tablets and game controllers and most importantly, touch recognition. According to Myers’ history of user interfaces, the earliest gesture recognition software (with the inclusion of a stylus like apparatus) was developed as far back as 1963 (which is incredible considering human gesture recognition is still not a widespread commercial technology)! Another interface that Myer listed as in development but was not available is Virtual Reality interfaces. Likewise, 3D graphics weren’t commercialised enough for me to have interacted with it back in 1998. The scope of image manipulation (like Photoshop today) however wasn’t invented then. The history of touch recognition however seems to date back to the 1960s and 1970s even though it has just recently become a commercialised interface!


Dalton Stout - 4/16/2014 16:24:58

The first computer that I remember my family owning was a Desktop PC that was shared by everyone. We ran most of our programs/saved most of our data on floppy disks and I believe it ran Windows 95 and had the same basic mouse/keyboard that we have today. The best way I could describe the user interfaces at that time is functional, but bleak. I remember a lot of gray windows with not much design. Not a lot of color was used and when it was, it was absurdly bright. There were not as many ways to create attractive an unique web pages like we can now with CSS/HTML5. Apps like Paint and TextEdit are good examples of simple applications I would use often, as well as extremely simple games like Frogger.

My first computer was missing one of my favorite features of the modern laptop, a track pad. With the trackpad, a whole new world of gesture navigation opens up. My computer also had no webcam/microphone functionality. That meant there was no speech recognition or audio recording of any time. The simple games I had were no where near as sophisticated as computer games today, and certainly nowhere near virtual reality systems in development, such as the Oculus Rift. My first computer/ISP also lacked the speed of todays internet, which allows modern computers to do so much more sharing/streaming/web surfing.

Compared to Myers' list, it seems a lot of things that are available to average consumers actually started in development during (and before) I ever got my first computer. For starters, speech recognition was being studied extensively places like MIT/IBM/AT&T. The original work for virtual reality was started by in Harvard as early as the 1960's. Also, gesture recognition research started around this time, as well as the release of the RAND tablet. Also, if i remember correctly, remote video chat functionality was studied and achieved by the Xerox Park team.


Andrea Campos - 4/16/2014 16:25:46

My very first computer was a PC that ran on Windows 2000. The idea of the user interface then is still the interface largely used today -- a desktop with icons for files, folders and applications, a menu bar at the bottom. There were overlapping windows, you controlled things with your mouse, and certain gestures were required, such as double clicking icons to open them. Unlike the interface I use today, there wasn't a lot of customization available -- I couldn't change the meaning of gestures, or the look and feel of the windows. The applications available then were things like Paint, Microsoft Word, Notepad, Solitaire, Internet Explorer, and most additional programs were acquired via CDs you bought at a store. Other important aspects and apps that were missing then that we have today are things like switching between different "spaces"/desktops so your desktop doesn't get cluttered with windows, more powerful image manipulating software like Photoshop, greater choice of browsers, IDEs like Eclipse, wifi and the ability to get on the internet instantaneously without dialup, and especially for laptops a much greater range of gestures for more actions to be performed. I believe this first item in the list was invented later, as it appeared to be a relatively new concept to separate "desktops" within a single computer when it became available on one of my future computers. According to Myers drawing programs were being researched since the 1960s, and early versions of Photoshop were out at this time, though later with greater advances did it become so ubiquitous and popular. IDEs definitely existed in research at this point and early versions were probably already being used or soon to be released. Gestures also existed in research and things like multiple fingers on track pads to mean different things, or even touch screen computers were the things likely being looked at at this point as they would in a couple more years start to become the ubiquitous reality of today.


Stephanie Ku - 4/16/2014 16:27:53

The first computer that I used regularly was the PC we had at home running Windows 2000. Back then, the only drawing application we had was Paint. It was not until a few years later that I discovered and installed Adobe Photoshop or Paintshop Pro. According to Myers’ history of user interfaces, drawing applications were demonstrated before it was shipped to consumer computers. As the PC was running Windows 2000, the basic interactions: direct manipulation of graphical objects, the mouse, and windows already existed. However, Computer Aided Design (CAD) was definitely missing from my computer. Myers’ article tells us how Timothy Johnson’s 1963 MIT MS Thesis presented an interactive 3D CAD system. Some PCs today have touch-screen + mouse capabilities. This definitely did not exist on my first computer. It actually was not until the last couple of years that this has been implemented and widely accepted. Most people are still most comfortable with the mouse and keyboard. However, touch-screen technology has been around for decades and used in research before ever making it to the consumer market. Our computers today most often than not, have the option of voice input. It is exceptionally useful for those with disabilities. However, my first computer definitely did not have that. Myers’ states that the fundamental research for speech and natural language processing was funded by the government and performed at CMU, MIT, SRI, BBN, IBM, AT&T Bell Labs and BellCore. An interesting window that no longer exists but very much prominent back in the day was the dial-up window. It would make dial-up noises while we attempt to connect to the Internet. Nowadays, this window does not need to exist, as connection is pretty much instantaneous.


Emily Sheng - 4/16/2014 16:31:26

The first computer I used regularly had multiple tiled windows, a mouse, a keyboard, and an extremely thick screen. In terms of programs, there was also text editing features, direct manipulation of graphical objects (in drawing programs), spreadsheets, and the capacity to run games. Perhaps the most prevalent user interface aspect we use today that was missing from my first computer is gesture recognition. Although not all computers today have this feature, many do, and this feature is one of the main features of tablets and smart phones. Another feature that is gradually rising in popularity is applications based on research in natural language and speech. For example, drawing programs that take speech input are becoming useful for those with disabilities, and smart phone/tablet "personal assistants" that act based on speech input are now gaining popularity. According to Myers, research in gesture recognition and natural language and speech already existed at the time his paper was published, but since then, technology in these fields have dramatically improved and is now being incorporated into consumer computers/devices.


Matthew Deng - 4/16/2014 16:32:27

The first computer I used was an extremely old desktop running Windows 95. The user interface was very basic, using a desktop metaphor and windows for navigation. The applications I remember using are mostly Internet Explorer and Microsoft's Pinball video game. Currently, I use a much sleeker laptop running Windows 7, which has many dramatic user interface and application differences from Windows 95. With it's Aero theme, Windows 7 provides for much smoother usage. With semi-transparent taskbars, window thumbnails, and its peeking feature, navigating through windows has never been easier. Furthermore, its taskbar is a lot more functional, with the ability to hide, and having large yet compact icons rather than lengthy boxes to show for each window. According to Myers' history of user interfaces, windows and direct manipulation of graphical objects were already in research, but to what extent is not clear.


Christina Guo - 4/16/2014 16:35:00

The first computer I used regular was an old version of Windows (most likely Windows 98). Some important differences in technology between now and then occur in various programs such as Photoshop, such as the ability to edit photos on a tablet using touch motions, which was completely different from the limitations of mouse interactions back then. Similarly, my phone has a lot of applications that I use regularly, that include technology such as sound recognition (for example, Shazam to recognize songs), that weren't available back then. These aspects, such as sound recognition and touch screens, were being studied in research but were not widely available. Even today, most of these aspects of user interfaces are used only in tablets and mobile phones rather than laptops, so these aspects did not become popular until mobile technology became widespread.

While many desktop and laptop computer interfaces between now and then remain mostly the same (considering those listed in the Application types, such as word wrap and search and replace for text editing, and drawing using a tablet and pen etc.), the key differences in user interfaces is in the area of extending these applications to be viable for new technologies such as tablets and mobile phones. Many mobile applications have started using touch screens and sound recognition, facilitating the development of many applications that weren't available before, such as the ability to search for things with Google using voice recognition, touch screen games like Flappy Bird, and more.


Meghana Seshadri - 4/16/2014 16:38:05

The first computer that I used regularly was a Sony VAIO PC Desktop with Windows XP. The user interface had a huge emphasis on its graphical outlook, with a high quality desktop background, a bright 3D looking “Start” button, and of course the recycling bin that looked like an actual bin. Icons and text were really bright and all of the various desktop interface elements and application interface elements had many colors. This was especially apparent on applications such as “Pinball” and “Paint”. Word, Excel, Internet Explorer, iTunes were also amongst the variety of applications that I commonly used, and they all seemed to have distinct features of their own so that one could tell them apart.

There have been a variety of improvements and changes that have taken place in consumer computer products ever since my first computer. On Windows XP, there was no easy way to tell whether an application had stopped responding, and a much less easier way to quit the application. The go-to, which had to be learned, was pressing “Control-Alt-Delete”, or the more common resort was to force shut down the computer entirely. Now, however, users can simply right click, or press a button on the menu bar and select quit the application. Other features that weren’t there on my first computer were things such as: (1) an easy and accessible way to search for files and other features stored in the computer. Before, one had to search through a difficult to read file system window to find the files they were searching for. Now, however, one just simply uses a search bar functionality (Apple Macs) and start typing the item’s name. (2) being able to switch from a horizontal screen view to a vertical screen view and pen-based inputs (Microsoft surface). (3) In built microphones and webcams.

Myer’s list of historical user interfaces are more centralized towards those that were researched and built from the 1960’s – 1990’s, however, my own personal usage of a computer was significant from 2000 onwards. Many of the user interface aspects that Myer discusses in his paper had already been implemented quite effectively in the first computers that I had used. However, Myer’s does discuss some of the interface features that I have mentioned in his “Up-And-Coming Areas” section. Features such as gesture recognition and natural language and speech are things that have been implemented and included in consumer products today, however, these aspects had not been in place during the time I first began significantly using a computer. Rather, these interfaces had been in implemented in a variety of research projects as well as used in less common commercial products.


Kaleong Kong - 4/16/2014 16:45:21

The first computer that I have used was running on Window 3.1 which is even older than Window 95. As far as I remembered, I doesn't have a standard centralized desktop UI as today computer. It separated all directory as a lot of different windows and all of them were displayed on the screen. Good thing is all icons are already in category which might be easier for you to find your target file. Bad thing is when you divide more category in the future, the desktop will become really messy.

The computer didn't support as much multi-media as today computer. It doesn't support webcam. It doesn't support touch-screen. It doesn't even support sound input. Therefore, a lot of things are missing.

I think a lot of things that are missing in my old computer are already included in their research like multi-media and gesture recognition.


Haley Rowland - 4/16/2014 16:45:31

I don't distinctly remember the "first" computer I used regularly (there was always a computer in my home), but I can remember the UI pretty clearly. Icons were small and had a pixelated appearance. At a young age, the applications I would interact with were the Paint program that came on Microsoft machines, and the Word text editor. This is consistent with Myers description of application types (drawing programs and text editing). The method of input was keystrokes or mouse clicks compared to today's touch gesture mouses. According to Myers' history, gesture recognition didn't come into universal notice until 1992, so it probably was not available in consumer computers until later, but the technology existed.


Bryan Sieber - 4/16/2014 16:49:12

When I was younger I only would play games on the computer. Games like Tonka Construction, and Math-based adventure games. I believe the system was a windows 95/98, probably in the late 90s. The games weren't played from the HDD, but from CDs. The system did have a mouse, keyboard, and (a huge) screen. There was a windowing system like we use today, along with the same start menu that was used on Windows 7 (that I also installed on my Win8).

One major component in today's society that is used often and in many places, is the use of multi-touch. This, along with rapid portability (laptops, tablets, phones...), is an important and key feature that was missing in my first computer. Multi-touch allows many gestures on a trackpad that have become learned behaviors rather quickly. Another common occurrence is "online" play. Games back then were usually single player games. The first time I ever played a game against random people elsewhere in the world was in about 6th grade.

Based off of Myers' history of user interfaces, it is stated that gesture recognition was being researched, but was based off of a stylus input. Although it wasn't multi-touch gestures, the research seemed to be approaching in that direction.


Seyedshahin Ashrafzadeh - 4/16/2014 17:12:03

The very first computer that I used was a PC with MS-DOS. I do not remember its parts quite well. If I remember correctly, it did not have direct manipulation of graphic objects, a mouse, windows or any of the basic application types. I remember my second computer a little better. It was a PC with Windows 95. The UI of windows 95 enabled users to click on, drag, delete, and resize files and folders. It had direct manipulation of graphic objects, a mouse, and windows. I was able to paint on it if I remember correctly through the "Paint" program and I was able to play some video games on it. Also, I was able to go to internet and look at hypertext documents through Dial-Up connection with Internet Explorer. I believe it had notepad for its Text Editing software. However, it did not have gesture recognition (like Leap motion, touch gestures), 3-D models (like google maps and CAD programs), virtual reality (like virtual reality games) or natural language and speech that we use today on our computer. Based on Myers' article, some universities and corporations started research on gesture recognition around 1965. It went to commercial use in 1970s in some CAD systems. 3-D systems started with government funding in 1963. The work of 60s and 70s let to making 3-D real time commercial systems. Much of the early research in virtual reality was done by Ivan Sutherland from 1965 to 1968 funding by Air Force, CIA, and Bell Labs. Some of other early researches was done in force feedback in 1971. As we can see, all of the aspects that windows 95 lacked already existed in research way back. However, they were not vastly commercialized and they were mostly funded for government purposes (Air Force, NASA).


Cory McDowell - 4/16/2014 17:13:10

The first computer I used ran on a Windows operating system. I still had access to many of the same applications I use today: internet browsing, word processing, and computer games. The user interface was a desktop, exactly like my computer today. One aspect that was missing was the track pad that I have on my laptop today. I did not have gestures such as two-finger scrolling or pinch-to-zoom. This technology was invented later than when I used my first computer. One other UI element that was missing was any kind of voice integration. My laptop now has speech-to-text capabilities, which was still in research when I used my first computer.


Patrick Lin - 4/16/2014 17:16:09

The first computer I regularly used was my parents’ Windows 95. Its interface is fairly similar to modern ones as Microsoft had already implemented direct manipulation of objects with desktop icons and windows, and keyboards and mice (albeit with balls instead of lasers) were commonplace. Although I’m sure modern operating systems are far more fully featured, at that time my needs never went beyond playing Math Munchers and other educational games or going online (with dial-up) to play Neopets on Internet Explorer. Since then, features like cloud-managed gaming and digital downloads have become standard, no longer requiring popping in a CD or floppy disk to access files or programs. Most of the features described in Myers’ account of UI history were invented or researched in the 60s or 70s, but many like gesture recognition did not exist yet because laptops, touchpads/touchscreens, and smartphones were not created for consumers yet. VR, 3D systems, and speech recognition (except maybe for VoIP) also were largely unheard of. Basic functions like text or graphical editing we still use today already existed with programs like Office and Paint.


Tristan Jones - 4/16/2014 17:17:03

The first computer i used was a e-machines desktop running windows 95. The basic concept of using a mouse (with left/right click), keyboard, and monitor were all there and have not changed substantially since then. The major hardware input changes were the CRT -> LCD and Mouseball -> LED Mouse -> Touchpad. However, they were not very hard to adjust to. All these hardware improvements made it easier for the user to interact with the computer. On the UI side, the "OS controls a bunch of windows" paradigm was still around back then and has not changed much since then. You could still open, close, maximize, move, and resize windows. It is very similar to what we have today.


Christopher Echanique - 4/16/2014 17:18:37

The first operating system I used regularly was Windows 98. The primary modes of interaction involved the mouse and keyboard and the user interface used overlapping windows to display application for the user to interact with. In addition, Window 98 had a number of application types mentioned in Myer’s paper. Drawing programs such as MS Paint, text editor/spreadsheet applications such Microsoft Office, and native gaming application like Solitaire and Minesweeper all were part of the operating system. However, Windows 98 did not use direct manipulation as a basic interaction, although aspects of this research had already existed based on Myer’s history of user interfaces. Other researched fields that were not a part of the operation system include gesture recognition and virtual reality.


Opal Kale - 4/16/2014 17:19:11

The very first computer I used regularly was in 2003, when I was using an iMac. The user interface was the basics of what the 2014 mac book pros have today! There was a dashboard at the bottom of the screen, but not too many apps in it. A big difference was that there was a "Macintosh HD" icon on the main screen which is no longer there. Like todays Macintosh Interfaces, you had the ability to drag and drop, have files in the form of icons that you could click in to, and there was a bar all the way at the top telling you what application you were using and it's respective features (such as "File, Edit, View, Help, Window, Preferences," etc.) Today's interface has a lot more functionality. For example, we now have Spotlight which allows you to search the whole macintosh harddrive; we also have swipe screens that let you have widgets if you swipe to the left. In addition, you can switch between screens, and see all your applications with 3 or 4 finger swipes respectively. Everything in the Myers' history of UI existed, included the stuff from the "Up and Coming" section; in iMacs, there WERE 3-D objects, and natural language and speech was somewhat implemented in the sense that you could have the computer read any text outline via the microphone. The feature of listening and recognizing natural speech, like siri, was invented much later!


Will Tang - 4/16/2014 17:19:02

The first computer that I regularly used was an IBM desktop running Windows XP. I mostly used the computer to write documents, chat on MSN instant messenger, surf the internet, and play video games. The user interface was actually pretty up to date, as Windows hasn't undergone any complete makeovers. Most interfaces that I have used after Windows XP have similar interfaces and seem to be improvements rather than makeovers. Some common applications and interface aspects that the computer didn't have were a movie editing application, multiple screen support, a spotlight search function, and the ability to fullscreen apps. While movie editing software did exist and I simply didn't have it installed on the machine, the other UI aspects are all available on OSX Mavericks, which is what I use now.

In the context of Myer's history of user interfaces, the basic interactions and application types are all there. Windows XP was long past the inception of direct manipulation of graphical objects and the mouse. Microsoft Word was used for text editing, and Microsoft paint provided the drawing feature. What the computer did lack was gestures recognition, virtual reality, natural language and speech recognition, and computer supported cooperative work. Interacting with the interface was limited to using the keyboard and the mouse, as well as receiving input from the speakers. While they were probably available through third party software, I never worked with any interface builders, or toolkits. I spent most of my time playing 2 dimensional online adventure games.


Hao-Wei Lin - 4/16/2014 17:19:49

The first computer I used regularly was running on Windows 2000. Some things that were missing (compared to interface in today's society) in that system were 1. speech recognition 2. Air drop 3. touch screen, and 4. the ability to switch workspaces (multiple desktops in mac OS nowadays). Myers' article did mention about gesture detection (related to touch screen), multiple windows(kind of related to the ability to switch workplace in mac) and research in natural language and speech (related to speech recognition). According to Myers' data, there had been researches on those areas prior to 2000, and it continued to evolve into the interfaces we have nowadays. From my own memory (which is not that credible), I didn't know about speech detection in consumer products until 2008 (I was also living in Taiwan prior to 2008, hence there might have been discrepancy).


Ian Birnam - 4/16/2014 17:25:07

There wasn't much on the first computer I regularly used. It had internet capabilities, a text editor, file explorer, standard stuff. all UI was limited in color and typography, and you could only interact with the mouse and windows.

Now we have Direct Manipulation via touch screens, in addition to the mouse and windows. Like the reading stated, I already had text editors, spreadsheets, basic drawing programs, and hypertext. However, CAD wasn't available on personal computers back then, whereas now I can put it on my laptop. Additionally, video games have evolved beyond simple side scrollers or flash games which were the only things I knew of back with my first computer.

All of the areas mentioned in the Up-and-Coming section were not available, and though I believe they were being researched at the time, were not available to me, except maybe for the use of 3D in some of the later video games that were available.


Max Dougherty - 4/16/2014 17:28:11

The first computer I remember using regularly was a family iMac G3. The computer ran OS 9.2. All interaction was through the keyboard and a simple point and click mouse interface. This is a contrast to many current systems which employ an array of multi-touch gestures as well as keyboards and a movable cursor. Navigation of the internet was very slow and rendered only simple static HTML pages. Dynamic Multi-Media support seen in many contemporary websites was did not yet exist in the consumer market. While my computer did have a few 3D games, graphics had low geometric complexity and without a dedicated GPU, game graphics were limited. Current technology in 3D graphics processing take advantage of separate GPU processors and can render millions of geometric points in real time. In fact, this realism has allowed us to extend beyond the fixed computer screen of my first Mac to a first real commercial attempt at virtual reality with the Oculus Rift. As mentioned by Myers’ these technologies were and still are under development at universities, even long before I had my first computer. With the explosive expansion of instant communication over the internet, collaborative work online has never been easier. Google docs allows multiple users around the world to edit a document at multiple points simultaneously. This functionality was far from available in the early days of the world wide web. The final aspect discussed by Myers was Natural language and speech processing. While still problematic, applications such as Siri have demonstrated a robust ability to interpret natural expressions and translate speech to text. While very present in academic research in 1998, very few commercial applications of this existed at the time.


Aman Sufi - 4/16/2014 17:25:56

The first computer I used regularly was a Windows 95 setup. It had the standard keyboard and mouse, and I remember having a clunky microphone and headset at the time. The most common thing I used to do, as far as I can remember, was play my favorite (now old-school) games back in the day of Sonic the Hedgehog and the original SimCity, and browse the web in Netscape explorer. Overall, most of the applications available then are still available now, only they have gone through several iterations in terms of adding small features and overhauling the GUIs as graphics cards became more powerful. Other than that, the familiar windowing system was in place, though applications did not support internal organization of windows, such as tabs or collapsed windows in a single icon. DVDs existed, but were very rare, and floppies were just going out of vogue. Due to the low, internet speed, many applications which rely on fast downloads did not exist in the same capacity either, such as app store type applications or Skype, at least until a few years later.

Comparing the desktop experience to the increasingly versatile computer market now though, some things that were missing when looking at my current laptop or PC tablets versus older laptops was the integration of capacitive touch making multi-finger gestures possible. Although a few old laptops had capacitive touchpads, none really recognized the full potential of apps with multi-touch gestures. Cameras were also rarely integral to the computer, such as in laptops today, and were more a rare feature, so there was no prevalence of applications such as face unlock of a PC. There were also few applications of synchronous participation in applications between multiple people aside from a few video games, also most likely due to internet limitations.

In conclusion, most of the things we have in nowadays’ computers have existed in research for over the decade that has passed since then. Gestures, computer-supported collaborative work, and I’m sure camera related software as well have all been undergoing research, especially in the academic field since long before they became mainstream in today’s computers. In fact, we continue to see this trend today, with many ‘experimental’ features that have been developed not being introduced into the commercial market until a demand for them arises, which is why companies like Apple are usually the first to market niche concepts such as multi-touch touch pads or retina displays before they begin to suddenly flood the market.


Andrew Lee - 4/16/2014 17:29:29

The earliest computer I can remember using regularly was an early Windows machine, maybe Windows 1995. It already had the traditional desktop interface with windows. I think for me, most of the first applications I used were educational games (Math Blaster, Treasure Mountain, etc). One of the applications I use the heaviest nowadays that wasn't so prominent back then is web browsers, which add a significant dimension of connectivity to the things we can do now, such as Google Docs.

Many of the things listed as up-and-coming in the article have either made its way into consumer products or almost to that level. The only one that hasn't become pervasive yet is virtual reality, but things like the Oculus Rift and Sony Morpheus are very close to real production.


Sol Park - 4/16/2014 17:59:35

My first computer was i486. DOS systems utilize a command line interface. Programs are started by entering their filename at the command prompt. DOS systems include several programs as system utilities, and provides additional commands that don't correspond to programs. I do not think we are missing any important user interfaces aspects and applications that we use today since today's computers also have command line interface as well as GUI. According to Myers' history of user interfaces, gesture recognition and hyper text were invented later.


Shaina Krevat - 4/16/2014 17:32:03

My first computer had an interface based on the metaphor of a desktop. There were folders, documents, a trash icon, etc. Today, there is the addition of a bar to track wha applications are open, as well as certain information like time, signal strength, etc.


Conan Cai - 4/16/2014 17:33:29

The first computer that I used regularly was a Windows 98 computer. It featured the familiar Start menu and desktop combination that I grew up with. Applications ran in independent windows with their own minimize and close buttons and these windows could be rearranged on the screen as the user saw fit. Now, I'm using a computer running Windows 8 and many of the user interface designs have changed. The traditional Start menu has been removed in favor of tile based icon system suited for touch screens. Many menus are accessed through multitouch gestures rather than using a mouse to click through the Start menu. In addition, a search bar that looks through all the files and applications on the computer helps eliminate the need for a user to click through menus to find something. All the user needs to do is type the name of something and Windows will find it for you. Windows also now has "Apps" that run in fullscreen mode. While these apps are visually appealing, they take up the whole screen and are less intuitive to switch between when using in conjunction with a mouse/keyboard (no multitouch to swipe between apps). Window's move to touchscreen support would correspond to Direct Manipulation of Graphical Objects and Gesture Recognition listed in Myer's history of UI.


Chirag Mahapatra - 4/16/2014 18:38:24

Back in 1998, we got the first computer which I could use regularly. The following were the differences in the computers which I used then: 1. A mouse had three buttons. This was soon replaced by two buttons with a scrolling button in the middle. Today we have a tracking pad instead of the mouse. 2. For connecting to the internet, we had to connect the computer to a modem which was connected to a phone. When the computer was connected to the internet, the phone could not be used. Today we have wifi for connection which does not need this set of wires or a phone. 3. The number of icons in a given screen was much lesser than what we have today. Today we have tons of icons on one page. We can even resize them. 4. We have touch screens today. This was not present then. Though This was in research then. 5. There were no applications for speech and image recognition. Even playing videos were painful then. 6. Since CDs were popular then, CD burning applications were in vogue.


Romi Phadte - 4/16/2014 18:53:32

My first computer was a dell desktop that ran Windows XP. The user interface of that time was quite modernized using windows, the mouse, and the concept of a desktop. Desktop computing hasn't changed much since then. One user interface that was missing back in the time was the widespread nature of touchscreen devices. My dad had a palm pilot which used a pen but the interface wasn't compelling enough for him to use every day. Today, he uses his iPad daily. Other things that were missing at the time was gesture recognition, augmented reality, and voice input for programs. These "missing interfaces" were in research for decades. However, as a little kid playing pinball on windows XP, I was unaware of how HCI would develop in the near future


Nahush Bhanage - 4/16/2014 19:40:43

The first computer I used was a desktop with Windows 98 operating system. It had a graphical user interface that allowed direct manipulation through icons using a mouse and a keyboard. Even during those times, applications ran in resizeable windows and keyboard shortcuts (that had effect on the application window in focus) improved speed and convenience of performing frequently required tasks. You could also add desktop shortcuts for different applications in order to avoid navigating long paths. I mostly used my computer for running applications such as MS Office (which was pretty basic back then), Notepad for some quick text editing, Internet Explorer for surfing the internet, Winamp for listening to songs, MS Paint and few 2D video games.

I could think of a lot of user interface aspects and applications that we use today but were missing in my first computer. I remember that the "start" menu back then did not have a search box. You had to traverse through a series of nested menus and more annoyingly, you had to remember this path! Computer displays these days have touch interaction capabilities that facilitate a more intuitive way of handling the user interface. Gesture recognition, voice recognition, augmented reality, collaborative document editing, cloud storage, realistic 3D graphics and high definition videos were some of the other features missing in my first computer.

Comparing with Myers' history of user interfaces, most of these aspects and applications were already being researched in universities since quite a long time. However, I believe that realistic 3D graphics and high definition video processing evolved much later as hardware capabilities improved.


Derrick Mar - 4/17/2014 9:19:24

Sorry :/, I keep forgetting about the reading responses after we had the midterm. Anyways, I know this is late, but here we go!

My first computer was definitely a desktop. I actually didn't quite start using a computer until I was at least 13 so computers were already pretty advanced at that time. Applications that we're available still consisted of windows software (e.g. word, excel, IE). I The UI was actually quite similar to today's. Obviously additional features were added but the concept of windows and directories still existed.

Nevertheless, the UI has gotten much more comprehensive. Since I switched to a mac one of their best features is a comprehensive search bar to search your entire system. Additionally they have search bars on each application to find specific features. The idea of multiple "workspaces/desktops" which can be moved to by swiping on the touchpad did not exist back then. Lastly, the UI has gotten a lot more dynamic. With effects such as scaling, hover tooltips, etc...

I think most of the features I hinted at in my old computer existed in Myer's research. They we're implemented starting around 1998 as well. That said, the idea of a search bar was invented later as it was not included in Myer's research.