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See GUI.



GUI

(Graphical User Interface) The common method of interacting with a computer that allows any image to be displayed on screen. Except for entering text on the keyboard, the primary way the computer is operated is with a mouse or touchpad pointing device. The mouse/touchpad is used to select icons and menu options as well as move and resize windows that frame the application and elements within it. The major GUIs are Windows and Mac along with GNOME and KDE for Linux.

From Characters to Graphics
With the advent of the Macintosh in the mid-1980s and Windows in the 1990s, GUIs replaced the character-based display with a graphics display that eliminated the need to enter cryptic commands in a required sequence. In addition, fonts could be changed and resized on screen, providing a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) capability for creating printed materials. However, all major operating systems still include a command line interface that lets programmers and power users enter commands to perform certain tasks faster and more easily than with a mouse (see command line). See user interface, UI types, drag and drop, desktop manager, window manager and Star.




The First Commercial GUI
Xerox's Star workstation was the first commercial implementation of the GUI. Introduced in 1981, the Star was the inspiration for the Mac, which debuted in 1984. (Image courtesy of Xerox Corporation.)








The Mac GUI
The top screen shot is an early Mac desktop ("Power Dude" was the name of the hard disk). Notice the difference between the icons, fonts and window borders on the old interface compared to the Mac OS X window below. (Top screen shot courtesy of Peter Hermsen.)






Early Windows
This was the Windows 2.0 interface in the late 1980s. As rigid as it looks, it was an improvement over Windows 1.0 because it supported resizable windows that could overlap. (Image courtesy of Ian Albert, www.ianalbert.com)






Unix Workstations
The Motif graphical interface was added to the command-line world of Unix workstations in the 1980s. (Screen shot courtesy of The Santa Cruz Operation, Inc.)






A Design Revolution
GUIs enabled imaginative interfaces. In this earlier Bryce 3D modeling program, the bottom left symbols were camera controls (trackball and x, y, z axes). On top were primitive graphic elements. (Screenshot courtesy of MetaCreations Corporation.)






Custom Looks for Windows
Stardock's WindowBlinds allows Windows users to have a unique desktop with thousands of pre-built designs to choose from. (Image courtesy of Stardock Corporation, Inc., www.stardock.com)






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