Go to previous pageGo to next page

1.1.3. Graphical User Interface

Definition of Graphical User Interface (GUI)

Graphical User Interfaces use pictures and graphics instead of just words to represent the input and output of a program. The program displays certain icons, buttons, dialogue boxes etc. on the screen and the user controls the program mainly by moving a pointer on the screen (typically controlled by a mouse) and selecting certain objects by pressing buttons, etc. (Linuxjunkies)

Short History of GUI

"Today, almost everybody in the developed world interacts with personal computers in some form or another. We use them at home and at work, for entertainment, information, and as tools to leverage our knowledge and intelligence. It is pretty much assumed whenever anyone sits down to use a personal computer that it will operate with a graphical user interface. We expect to interact with it primarily using a mouse, launch programs by clicking on icons, and manipulate various windows on the screen using graphical controls. But this was not always the case." (Reimer 2005)

until 1970

Command Line Interfaces: Text-based user interfaces requiring commands to be typed on the keyboard.

from 1973

GUI-Prototypes: Development of the first operational "Alto" Computer at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). The Alto is the first system to pull together all of the elements of the modern Graphical User Interface. (toastytech.com)

  • 3-button mouse
  • Bit-mapped display
  • Use of graphical windows


Xerox introduces the "Star", the commercial successor to the Alto. (toastytech.com)
Notable Features:

  • Double-clickable icons
  • Overlapping windows
  • Dialog Boxes
  • 1024*768 monochrome display


Apple introduces the new computer "Lisa". (toastytech.com)
Notable Features:

  • Pull down menus
  • Menu Bars

Visi Corp releases Visi On, the first integrated graphical software environment for IBM PCs. (toastytech.com)



Apple introduces the Macintosh. (toastytech.com)



Graphical User Interfaces are very common and are used for almost all programs.

(screenshot        © Apple)(screenshot © Apple)

Go to previous page
Go to next page