"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
"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
"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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