In today’s world, computers are everywhere. It does not matter if it is a laptop or a smartphone. However, there is no escaping it. We live in an era where user interface design or UI takes the lead. From the user interface of devices to smart homes and cars. In all these examples, there should be a user interface so that the user can easily work with these devices. The user interface is the interface through which the user interacts with the machine. The goal is clear: first, to create a connection between the user and the machine, and second, to create a pleasant experience for the user.
This article is for people who are interested in the fascinating field of UI or a career related to it. However, having information about the history of the profession in which you operate is not something that can be ignored. You need to know about its past to understand where you are now. The user interface that you see on your mobile or computer today did not get here overnight and has come a long way. In this article, we will take a look at the history of UI over about 60 years.
Table of Contents
What is UI design?
UI design or user interface in simple language is the art of arranging various elements on the device that the user interacts with. The goal of user interface design is to maximize the usability of the system as well as improve the user experience.
History of UI: The Evolution of Human-Computer Communication
The 1960s: batch computing and command line interface
In the early days of computer history, working with computer systems was in such a way that the user had to give his commands to the computer manually. For example, to open a file, he had to enter a set of commands into the system in the form of code so that the computer would do it for him.
In this method, the user worked with the data manually, and there was no interface for the direct interaction of the user with the computer. At that time, users had to enter the required commands manually to do any work. This type of user interface is called Command Line Interface or CLI.
Similarly, in batch computing, users had to save all the calculation commands they needed in a file and then send the file to the computer. The computer automatically executed all the commands at once and gave the results of the calculations to the user.
This method was very easy and acceptable for users who were familiar with CLI, but for beginners, it was difficult and full of challenges. For this reason, with the advancement of technology and the development of the graphical user interface (GUI), the user environment began to change and users were able to interact with the computer in a graphical environment.
1970s: Introduction of Graphical User Interface (GUI)
In the 1970s, when Xerox developed the first personal computer with a graphical user interface, the Alto, GUI was introduced. This computer had a mouse and keyboard and users could interact with the system using the mouse and keyboard shortcuts. This user interface was presented to users using icons, menus, text boxes, and windows, allowing them to easily interact with the system.
The 1980s: Introduction of Apple Macintosh
In the 1980s, Apple made full use of the GUI with the introduction of the Macintosh computer. This computer was designed with a color screen and all the features previously used in Alto’s GUI. With the introduction of the Macintosh computer, GUI became more widely used in the computer and software design and manufacturing industry.
The 1990s: Microsoft’s entry into the world of UI design
In the 1990s, Microsoft took the GUI a step higher by introducing Windows 3.1. This version of Windows included many new features, including graphics and video file management, an image editor, a text editor, and new tools for designing graphical user interfaces. In this version, Microsoft used Microsoft Visual Basic programming technology as a tool for user interface design.
The 2000s: A revolution in application UI design
In the 2000s, with the advancement of technology and the increase of Internet users, the UI was displayed in a new way in web browsers. This user interface included icons, menus, and buttons for users to interact with web pages using a mouse. Also, during this period, companies such as Google improved this user interface by introducing a simple and compact user interface such as Google’s home page.
2007 is an important year for user interface design. This year, Apple introduced an advanced touch GUI. Also, in 2008, it unveiled the App Store, which was a new and attractive environment for providing various applications to its users. Three months later, Google also introduced its famous Play Store.
As a result, it can be said that it was from this year that the creation of various applications for different user environments became common and a revolution took place in the industry of UI design and application design.
The 2010s: more flexible user interface design
In the 2010s, with the expansion of cloud computing, the Internet of Things, and virtual reality, the user interface design was also transformed. For example, with the expansion of the Internet of Things, users could control devices such as refrigerators and televisions in their homes through a mobile app. As a result, in this period, the need to design user interfaces with high control and flexibility was felt more than ever.
What is the user interface like in the 2020s?
With the advancement of technology and browser and operating system software, user interface design or UI has become one of the vital parts of technology. Today, UI exists in many devices, systems, software, and even websites. For example, the user interface of the Windows 11 operating system includes beautiful menus, sliding windows, and advanced tools that users can use to easily work with the operating system. Also, software such as Photoshop and InDesign use an advanced GUI to work with graphic files. The 3D user interface is another UI design trend that realizes user interaction with the computer in a 3D environment.