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Cyberculture History: The GUI Turns 50

Klint Finley

My article for Wired on the 50th anniversary of the original graphical user interface:

Fifty years ago today, Ivan Sutherland introduced the first graphical computer application: a drafting program called Sketchpad.

At a time when computers were operated with punch cards and command lines — and the mouse had not yet been invented — Sutherland used a light pen to manipulate lines and shapes on a screen. With Sketchpad, you could draw perfectly straight lines, change the size of shapes without altering the proportions, and create “rubber band lines” you could bend and stretch — many of the things you can do today with programs like AutoCAD and Adobe Illustrator.

Sketchpad’s legacy can’t be overstated. It directly fed the creation of Douglas Englebart’s oN Line System (the subject of the “Mother of All Demos”), which would influence, well, every graphical computing system that came after it, from the Xerox PARC Alto to the Apple Macintosh to the iPhone.

Full Story: Wired Enterprise: iPhone’s Great Granddaddy Celebrates 50th Birthday

 
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