User Interfaces 

In today’s society we are all wrapped up in our devices, constantly looking down to find new information. In past years access to information wasn’t this easy. With all of the progress made in user interfaces, it has become very easy to find and share information. In the past people would use punch cards which they would punch information on and group them to encode groups of data. The big turning point for user interfaces was the creation of the keyboard. This created so many opportunities and also made typing much easier for the user. After this, improvements were being made more and more to increase convenience for the users.

  • 1960’s-1980’s: technology was dominated by keyboards. This was seen as a big improvement over the punch card which was mainly used before the invention of the keyboard (Asher).
  • In 1973 the Xerox Alto was created which was the first desktop computer and also the first computer to use a mouse driven graphical user interface (GUI). (Asher).
  • 1984: Steve Jobs was inspired to create the mouse which he introduced into his new release of the Macintosh, along with the introduction of Windows 1.0 (Asher).
  • 1994-1997: The introduction of the laptop. This also changed the use of the mouse by introducing different trackpads and trackballs to make the use of the mouse more convenient in a laptop. Also around this time voice was starting to be introduced as another way of interacting with your PC. Shortly after the laptop was invented, the PalmPilot was introduced which created a whole new user interface. (Asher).
  • The PalmPilot: A handheld device which worked as a portable PC that had a stylus which worked with the touchscreen. This was mainly used to hold addresses, phone numbers, and notes, but always stayed connected with the PC. (Asher).
  • Early 2000’s: Apple started to innovate with new and better ways to interact with the mouse. They first introduced a “magic mouse” which allowed users to use multiple fingers to do different things. Shortly after this in 2001 Apple introduced the iPod with a scroll wheel which allowed the removal of all external buttons. (Asher).
  • 2007-2010: In the later years of technology more advances were being made such as the iPad and iPhone. With these new devices users were able to do more with a handheld device than with some computers. Also during this time, the touch screens were being constantly improved to make use easier. Along with this came more improvements on voice activation making it easier for users to use their device and find information without having to type anything in. (Asher).

The Internet

Every morning we check the weather to see what you should wear, look up recipes to make for dinner or check up on what your friends are doing. None of these quick tasks could be done with the internet and we only think about it when we are almost out of data. The internet is something we use every day but don’t usually think about too much, however, it’s still fairly new.

Computers were once machines that took up entire rooms and stood alone. If you wanted to use one of these computers you needed to be a computer scientist and enter the room in order to use it. (Pavlik and McIntosh, 147). Computers started out as solely code, a math matachin or scientist would punch in something and the computer did its magic and later printed a single line of information onto a ticket. You and I would not understand the language used to talk to the computers. Later researchers tried to connect close range computers to share research. This communication was the beginning of the internet. While computers were evolving, so did their communication with one another.

It wasn’t until ARPANET or the Advanced Research Project Agency Network was created and implemented by the Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA which allowed networks to communicate through hard wiring in 1972 (Straubhaar, LaRose, Davenport, 266). The birth of email is credited to Ray Tomlinson the same year (Baran, 136). Though communication was still difficult do to because computers were using different protocols or rule and languages. In order to fix this issue Transmission Control Protocol/ Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) was adopted in 1982 so that all computer would follow the same set of rules and languages allowing them to communicate (Pavlik and McIntosh, 148).

Internet, (servers that transmit services) was originally created for scientists to use for research. Universities were next to use the internet to share and communicate with one another through email and discussion groups through NSFNET (national science foundation 1986) ( Staubhaar, LaRose, Davenport, 127). The creation of the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee in 1991 made it easier to use the internet and opened it up to a broader range of users. (Pavlik and McIntosh, 149)

The WWW used and continues to use HTTP or Hyper Text Protocol which connects web pages and HTML which styles the page, to make it more user-friendly with graphics, images and other visual design elements (Biagi, 189). Next to follow the creation of the WWW was the first graphical browser created by Marc Andreessen called Mosaic, which was later commercialized to Netscape. This allowed users to easily search the web (Straubhaar, LaRose, Davenport, 267). Internet Explorer, by Microsoft, was another web browser that was created to compete with Netscape, followed by Firefox, and Google Chrome (Pavlik and McIntosh, 149).

It may be hard to imagine our lives without the internet and four years ago there were more than three billion internet users across the globe (Pavlik and McIntosh, 148). We are so dependent on it we often take for granted. As we move into the future the internet will continue to come an even larger part of our lives, consuming our free time, our education and work. With computers ever evolving, the internet too will continue to evolve.

For a more detailed interactive timeline visit: ComputerHistory.org

  • 1972 ARPNET was launched (Straubhaar, LaRose, Davenport, 266)
  • 1972 Email is created (networking through physical wiring system) (Baran, 233)
  • 1974 Internet emerges (Baran, 233)
  • 1982 DARPA adopts TCP/IP protocol as the standard for communication among computers in ARPANET (Pavlik and McIntosh, 148)
  • 1990 HTTP developed (Pavlik and McIntosh, 149)
  • 1991 World Wide Web is created by Tim Berners-Lee (seen through browsers- exist on your computer) (Pavlik and McIntosh, 149)
  • 1994 Mosaic Is created (Biagi, 190)
  • 1996 Microsoft created Internet Explorer (IE) to compete with Netscape or Mosaic (Straubhaar, LaRose, Davenport, 267)
  • 1998 Google search engine is released (Pavlik and McIntosh, 149)
  • 2004 Facebook (Baran, 233)
  • 2006 Twitter (Baran, 233)
  • 2008 Firefox/ Google Chrome (Pavlik and McIntosh, 149)
  • 2009 Cloud saving services (Pavlik and McIntosh, 149)
  • 2010 79% of US have internet access in their homes/ Free Wifi hotspots (Pavlik and McIntosh, 149)
  • 2012 256 million mobile internet (3G) users (Pavlik and McIntosh, 149)
  • 2014 Internet users tops 3 billion users worldwide (Pavlik and McIntosh, 149)

Video Games

There is no exact date set to be the birth of video games, however, the beginning can be traced back to the mid 1900’s. Video games have come a long way from pinball machines to the recent PlayStation 4 with realistic graphics played on a home console. Gaming is a big part of our culture, as 51% of US households have at least one game console (Baran 132). To understand how the video game industry has evolved over the years, this section is going to explore the timeline of key events in the history of video games.

The video game industry is a close relative to the amusement industry (Kent 21). The modern-day video game is the descendant of the early pinball machine. In 1931, the amusement arcade game Baffle Ball was released by David Gottlieb. Baffle ball was a pinball machine, the first of its kind to ever be mass produced. At this time, the Great Depression was in effect. Arcade games were seen as slot machines, which were deemed illegal at this time (Baran 134). Therefore, pinball machines were considered gambling and were not allowed.  David Gottlieb saves the day, and argues that games of skill are not actually gambling. Furthermore, bans were lifted, and the people were craving more skill required electronic games. Baffle Ball was generating so much money that imitators followed.

About ten years later, Atari released the arcade game Pong, which sparked video game development as it quickly became popular (Pavlik & McIntosh 153). In the same year, the first home video game console is launched, the Magnavox Odyssey. However, if someone wanted to play a new game, he/she would have to buy a whole to console. Following the launch of Pong and the new home console, the golden age of video games began. During this golden age, the use of console games increased, and the play of arcade games decreased which is still prevalent today.

The second generation of video games began when Atari released the first cartridge based video game console. This means, instead of needing to switch the console every time someone wanted to play a new game, it was now possible to just switch out the cartridges. Each cartridge offered a different game (Pavlik & McIntosh 154). Less than ten years later, the third generation is introduced when Japan’s Nintendo is released in the U.S, offering a more powerful eight-bit console.

It was not until the 90’s and 00’s when console makers start competing, and started producing even more powerful systems that use CD’s instead of cartridges. Graphics get better and are available in 3D. Mobile gaming devices such as the Game Boy, PSP, and DS are released. In the late 2000’s, gaming systems had significantly evolved, and we see the gaming systems that we see today. Motion sensors in consoles change the way people interact with the game. Instead of only needing to sit and press buttons, the player can now get up and get moving (Pavlik & McIntosh 156). Voice command and face recognition is introduced in most recent years.

Video games have come a long way. What was once a pinball machine, is now a facial recognition, game console with the ability to switch out games freely. Though there is no definite birth of the video game, there is plenty of research that shows that the industry began in the early 1900’s. Video games played a big part in people’s lives back then, and continue to as 2/3 of Americans play video games today (Baran 132).

  • 1931- Baffle Ball released.
  • 1961-Steve Russell’s Space War released. This is the first interactive computer game.
  • 1972- Magnavox Odyssey, the first home video game console.
  • 1972- Atari’s arcade game, Pong comes out and sparks the revolution.
  • 1977- First cartridge based console released by Atari.
  • 1985- Japan’s Nintendo is released in the United States.
  • 1989- Nintendo Game Boy released. Mobile gaming introduced.
  • 1995- Sony released the PlayStation, a console that uses CD games not cartridges.
  • 2001- Microsoft releases XBOX.
  • 2006- 7th generation, Wii, comes out.
  • 2010- XBOX 360 released, a motion sensor gaming device.
  • 2011- 8th generation, Wii U, PS4, and XBOX one comes out.

Augmented Reality 

Before being able to understand what augmented reality and virtual reality is, we first must understand the difference between the two. Augmented reality is when there is overlay of digitally created images. Virtual reality is the complete replacement of reality.  The difference is pretty large, but many will confuse both for the same thing. (Pavlik)

1830s- Although augmented reality seems very new, you would be surprised to know that the idea dates as far back as 1838 with stereoscopic photos and viewers. You might remember using a viewer as a kid, where you would look into a toy set of binoculars and you could change slides with a dial. (Virtual)

1960s- The digital console for virtual reality was created in the 1960s by Ivan Sutherland. Sutherland, a computer scientist, created the computer display that you could wear. At the same time, a virtual reality artist named Myron Krueger created a console that was defined as “Artificial Reality”. This console allowed users to communicate with each other in a virtual environment with a monitor that would be used over the eyes. Since then researchers and professors have been experimenting and creating different kinds of virtual reality monitors. (Virtual)

1990s-Even though we have seen a spike in popularity with virtual reality headgear in the last couple of years, this is not the first time it has been introduced to the video game market. We first saw the virtual reality technology hit arcades with video games that would generally look like a large arcade game that would usually have a chair that you would strap into. An example would be the “Roller Coaster” or “Tornado” simulators that would usually be set up in malls, arcades or amusement parks.  Many companies such as SEGA or Nintendo have tried to introduce virtual reality portable consoles to the market but have failed due to the prototype not being user friendly.

2000s- When we talk about virtual reality consoles today, the Samsung or Google version of the virtual reality headgear aren’t the first ones that have been created. Even though the binocular prototype was created years before these companies had the idea, they have created a console that is more user friendly which has overall made it the most popular and profitable. We have also seen the rise of games such as “Pokémon Go” or new Snapchat features where you can overlay different images onto your face, these are perfect examples of augmented reality that is user friendly and was shown to be very popular. (Virtual)

 Stepping away from video games and entertainment, we are now finding ways to use augmented and virtual reality to learn subjects in schools, train doctors, create art and translate or navigate maps in foreign countries. We are really looking to the future when talking about augmented or virtual reality because this is where technology is heading.

Works Cited  

Asher, Mark. “The History Of User Interfaces.” CMO.com by Adobe: Digital Marketing Insights, Expertise and Inspiration – for and by Marketing Leaders, Adobe, 1 Sept. 2017, www.cmo.com/features/articles/2017/7/20/a-brief-history-of-ui-and-whats-coming.html#gs.6NgxbSw.

Baran, Stanley J. “The Internet and the World Wide Web.” Introduction to Mass Communication; Media Literacy and Culture, 8e ed., McGraw-Hill Education , 2015, pp. 230–239.

Biagi, Shirley. “Digital Media: Widening the Web.” Media/Impact; An Introduction to Mass Media, 10th ed., Cengage Learning, 2013, pp. 184–194.

Dillon, Roberto. The Golden Age of Video Games: The Birth of a Multibillion Dollar Industry. CRC Press, 2011.

“History Of Virtual Reality.” Virtual Reality Society, http://www.vrs.org.uk/virtual-reality/history.html.

Pavlik, John V., and Shawn McIntosh. Converging media: a new introduction to mass communication. Oxford University Press, 2018.

Kent, Steven L. The Ultimate History of Video Games: from Pong to Pokemon and Beyond…the Story behind the Craze That Touched Our Lives and Changed the World.  Crown/Archetype, 2010.

Pavlik, John V., and Shawn McIntosh. “Interactive Media; The Internet, Video Games and Augmented Reality .” Converging Media: a New Introduction to Mass Communication, Oxford University Press, 2017, pp. 147–151.

Straubhaar, Joseph D., et al. “The Internet.” Media Now: Understanding Media, Culture, and Technology, 6th ed., Cengage Learning, 2009, pp. 262–269.

Tommaso, De Paolis Lucio, et al. Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Computer Graphics: 4th International Conference, AVR 2017, Ugento, Italy, June 12-15, 2017, Proceedings, Part I. Springer International Publishing, 2017.


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