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This chapter has already demonstrated the importance of the personal computer as an information access device. One of the most significant breakthroughs in the use of the personal computer has been the development of graphical user interfaces (sometimes called direct manipulation interfaces ). Elements of these interfaces can be traced to the work of Douglas Engelbart in the mid-60's [Engelbart and English, 1968]. The first fully worked out representation of the principles that are now familiar to personal computer users was the Star workstation developed by Xerox [Johnson and et. al., 1989]. Many of these principles (with a significant addition of new ideas) were then taken by Apple Computer and first realised in the Lisa workstation and then the Macintosh.
The Apple Macintosh was the first mass-market personal computer to provide most of the features now regarded as standard. Microsoft took many of these ideas and produced a succession of inferior GUIs running from Windows 1.0 through to Windows 3.11. Windows95 was the first version of Windows that bore comparison with the MacOS. Due to a variety of factors, Windows95 has become extremely successful and is now installed on virtually all new Intel-processor personal computers. Both the newly released Windows98 and MacOS8.1 provide a range of sophisticated features to support network software, co-operative work and access to distributed information. These operating systems also provide inbuilt support for display of/access to multimedia information.
Development on user-interfaces is continuing. A good review of the state of the art and future directions is contained in [Halfhill, 1997].
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