A graphical user interface (GUI) is a type of user interface which allows people to interact with electronic devices like computers, hand-held devices (MP3 Players, Portable Media Players, Gaming devices), household appliances and office equipment. A GUI offers graphical icons, and visual indicators as opposed to text-based interfaces, typed command labels or text navigation to fully represent the information and actions available to a user. The actions are usually performed through direct manipulation of the graphical elements. [1]

The term GUI is historically restricted to the scope of two-dimensional display screens with display resolutions capable of describing generic information, in the tradition of the computer science research at Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) (formerly Xerox PARC and still a subsidiary of Xerox Corporation).The term GUI earlier might have been applicable to other high-resolution types of interfaces that are non-generic, such as videogames, or not restricted to flat screens, like volumetric displays. [2]

Precursors Edit

The precursor to GUIs was invented by researchers at the Stanford Research Institute, led by Douglas Engelbart. They developed the use of text-based hyperlinks manipulated with a mouse for the On-Line System. The concept of hyperlinks was further refined and extended to graphics by researchers at Xerox PARC, who went beyond text-based hyperlinks and used a GUI as the primary interface for the Xerox Alto computer. Most modern general-purpose GUIs are derived from this system. As a result, some people call this class of interface a PARC User Interface (PUI) (note that PUI is also an acronym for perceptual user interface).

Ivan Sutherland developed a pointer-based system called Sketchpad in 1963. It used a light-pen to guide the creation and manipulation of objects in engineering drawings.

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