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By Bill Moggridge

A pioneer in interplay layout tells the tales of designers who replaced the best way humans use daily issues within the electronic period, interviewing the founders of Google, the writer of The Sims, the inventors and builders of the mouse and the machine, etc.

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NLS grew in sophistication and content as time went on but remained essentially the same in concept. In 1971 a group of the best people at ARC, including Bill English, were tempted away from SRI by the opportunities at the new Xerox PARC, where so many exciting things seemed to be about to happen. This was the start of a slide for Doug Engelbart, during which his long-held dreams seemed to have less and less influence. You can feel the frustration behind his words as he describes the determined pursuit of his ideals and bemoans the success of the desktop: Demo at Joint Computer Conference, 1968 • I’ve been pursuing for fifty years something that required higher and higher levels of capability.

Icons control the execution of computer programs, because they have code and data associated with them, as well as their images on the screen. This distinguishes icons from, say, lines and rectangles in a drawing program, which have no such semantics. Pygmalion is the origin of the concept of icons as it now appears in graphical user interfaces on personal computers. After completing my thesis, I joined Xerox’s “Star” computer project. The The Mouse and the Desktop | 21 first thing I did was recast the programmer-oriented icons of Pygmalion into office-oriented ones representing documents, folders, file cabinets, mailboxes, telephones, wastebaskets, etc.

In his calm but mesmerizing voice, he described and demonstrated an amazing array of functions on the NLS system. Words were manipulated with full-screen text editing, including automatic word wrap, corrections and insertions, formatting, and printing. Documents were planned and formatted using headings and subheadings. Links were demonstrated between one document and another, and collaboration between remote participants was demonstrated in real time: One of the basic design principles that we started with was that you want to be able to talk about any other knowledge object out there.

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