A graphical user interface (GUI, pronounced gooey) is an interface program that allows users to interact with a computer through its graphic display. Before the creation of the GUI, computers could only be operated with a command-line interface (CLI) which required users to manually type commands and respond to prompts. GUIs were created to make computers more user friendly. Today, most programs rely on GUIs, but some programming tasks still require the use of a CLI.
History of the graphical user interface (GUI)
The earliest GUI was created in the late 1960s by Stanford researcher Douglas Engelbart with his invention of the mouse, which allowed him to directly interact with a computer s graphic display. Xerox s Palo Alto Research Centers (PARC) further developed Engelbart s concept in the 1970s by creating a windows, icon, menu, and pointer (WIMP) interface. The WIMP GUI uses a pointer to interact with widgets on the graphic display.
The release of the Apple Macintosh in 1984 took the GUI mainstream; but only a year later, Windows released a computer with a similar GUI system that overtook the market. With the invention of the iPhone and iPad, Apple ushered in the post-WIMP style of GUI. With the addition of a touchscreen, users were now able to select, swipe, pinch, and zoom.
The desktop metaphor
The most common form of GUI found on computers is the desktop. When researchers at Xerox PARC were devising a GUI system, they decided to arrange and organize the display like the top of a desk, which became known as the desktop metaphor. Items were arranged in documents, folders, and files.
Some popular operating systems that use the desktop metaphor: