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The GUI & Ease of Use

GUI sounds like an old candy or baking recipe. The success of today’s digital items relies on the ease of operation and functions that tablets, phones, computers and cameras operate with. When I decided to write this article I found this has been a much longer time in the making then I thought.

In the early 80s Apple created the Mac and icons with cursors to activate them started. No longer did you have to type commands at a prompt that didn’t work if you left anything out of the required structure or syntax.

Linux KDE GUI

Click to enlarge

It wasn’t long after that Bill Gates and company realized this was what people wanted and Windows was born. DOS became Windows and operating systems became graphical on the screen. Millions of lines of code were hidden behind the colorful graphics and changing screens. The easier and faster you make selecting functions, programs and apps, the more the public will buy your product.

Ease of use, speed, capacity, functions, longer battery life, smaller size and portability equals todays popular products. The idea for this actually goes back to before World War II. As in Jules Vern’s novels, even though the technology had not yet developed, the idea of the creative thinker spoke to the future.

Ken Starks writes and publishes The Blog of Helios. In addition, he’s the person behind the Reglue project which refurbishes older computers and gives them to disadvantaged school kids in the Austin, Texas area.

“‘When I was explaining the difference between Windows, Linux and Mac, she brushed the explanation off and summarized it quaintly.

“‘It’s not a big deal,’ she told me. ‘You see an icon, you click an icon and stuff happens.’ I smiled and thought inwardly, ‘Stuff happens indeed.’ You may have heard or read me say the exact same thing. Now you know that I stole it from a brilliant 15 year old girl.”

– Ken Starks, FOSS Force, 8/2/14

I have listed several articles at the end of this piece you may want to read.

What we now take for granted took over 70 years to develop. Many millions of people throughout the world have been trained to point and click on Apple, Linux and Microsoft operating system running devices. They have been conditioned almost from their earliest years to expect ease of use and reliability. They don’t really care what is “under the hood” as they expect all devices to search the Internet, do word processing and spread sheets minimally and easily. Now they even keep their files and photos in the cloud and access information cross-platform.

“It’s not a big deal. You see an icon, you click an icon and stuff happens.”  We are now in a new era where as long as “stuff happens” users don’t care if it is Windows, Apple or Linux. All they care about is reliability. They pretty much adapt to any operating system easily.

Links:

A History of the GUI
Linux Advocates in the Wild
The Graphical User Interface
The Real History of the GUI

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Hank Feinberg

Hank Feinberg is President of the Rockland PC Users Group in Rockland County, New York. This group sponsors Project PCReNew, which refurbishes used computers to give to individuals or organizations that can't afford them.

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