GUI Meaning & Definition

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:

 

 

 

 

KJ Pace
KJ Pace
KJ Pace writes and coordinates content at TechnologyAdvice in Nashville, TN. When she’s not producing content, she enjoys reading, cooking, and playing with her dogs.

Top Articles

Huge List Of Texting and Online Chat Abbreviations

From A3 to ZZZ we list 1,559 text message and online chat abbreviations to help you translate and understand today's texting lingo. Includes Top...

How To Create A Desktop Shortcut To A Website

This Webopedia guide will show you how to create a desktop shortcut to a website using Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer (IE). Creating a desktop...

The History Of Windows Operating Systems

Microsoft Windows is a family of operating systems. We look at the history of Microsoft's Windows operating systems (Windows OS) from 1985 to present...

Hotmail [Outlook] Email Accounts

  By Vangie Beal Hotmail is one of the first public webmail services that can be accessed from any web browser. Prior to Hotmail and its...

Common Business-Oriented Language (COBOL)...

What is COBOL? COBOL stands for Common Business-Oriented Language. It is a 60-year-old programming...

Shared Hosting Definition &...

Shared hosting is a web hosting model in which multiple sites occupy the...

Database Integration Definition &...

Database integration consolidates data from multiple sources to provide businesses with more comprehensive...