Designing Interactions

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Chapter 1 – The Mouse and the Desktop

Interviews with Doug Engelbart, Stu Card, Tim Mott, and Larry Tesler

Doug Engelbart invented the mouse, and confirmed that it was the best device for pointing and clicking by testing a prototype against a range of alternative options. The mouse became the dominant design. His demonstration of NLS (standing for online System) to the Fall Joint Computer Conference in 1968 changed the world of computing for ever.

As Stu Card tested and improved versions of the mouse at Xerox PARC, he developed a supporting science for the design of human-computer interactions, allowing him to predict the likelihood of a design approach being successful. His theoretical understanding helped structure the design space so the movement through it could be more rapid.

Tim Mott created the concept of guided fantasies to learn about user needs, and was one of the very first people to apply rigorous user testing to the design of user interfaces. He also invented a simple version of the desktop metaphor for screen representations of office tasks, called the Office Schematic. Larry Tesler was Tim’s partner in the development of desktop publishing solutions. His many inventions while he was at Xerox PARC include participatory design, cut-and-paste, editable dialog boxes and the Smalltalk browser.

The Desktop (Office) Metaphor. Tim Mott's reconstruction of his sketch on a bar napkin.

The Desktop (Office) Metaphor. Tim Mott's reconstruction of his sketch on a bar napkin.