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FairfaxIT: An invention to go gooey over

Mar 29, 1999, 19:28 (12 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Graeme Philipson)

"TWO weeks ago in this column, I wrote about Linux and how the Open Source philosophy it represents poses a serious and very welcome threat to the established order of things."

"That piece was very well received, except that I got dozens of e-mails from all around the world, pointing out that I had made an error in the article. I said that the first graphical user interface (GUI) for Linux was Gnome, whereas that honour should go to an interface called KDE. KDE stands for "Kool Development Environment", which is how techies name things."

"A GUI is an interface. It is the place at which the computer meets the outside world. And a user interface is the place at which the computer communicates with the user, an actual human being."

"The GUI was invented at Xerox's famous Palo Alto Research Centre (PARC) in Silicon Valley in the '70s. PARC was, and is, a centre for pure research, where many of the major innovations in information technology were first designed or conceived."

"The team at PARC, led by Larry Tessler, designed the GUI to work with a small office computer that Xerox was developing called the Alto. It worked brilliantly, but in true PARC fashion it was more theory than practice. In December 1979 a team of people from a small company called Apple visited PARC for a demonstration of the Xerox GUI."

"There was an amusing moment in the mid-1980s when Apple had the audacity to sue Microsoft for stealing the "look and feel" of the Macintosh GUI. This case went nowhere when Apple was reminded it had pinched the idea from Xerox."

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